The General Motors Strike of 1970
In 1970 General Motors experienced the biggest worker strike they’ve ever seen. During this time, General Motors was the biggest auto manufacturer in the USA and the biggest employer. With around 320,000 employees nationwide, they employed a massive workforce.
On September 14th, 1970 is when all 321,510 employees in the USA and 22,100 in Canada walked out. Up to that point and since then has there ever been an entire strike. There have been some localized strikes but never with the entire company. The strike was also one of the longest, lasting for a total of 67 days. By the end of the strike the numbers of employees striking rose to 400,000.
The strike had a ripple effect. Restaurants were shutting down and makers of tires, exhaust pipes and others began to lay off workers as the demand suddenly stopped. One thing that did go up in demand during the strike was lumber. Thousand of workers were off work and began working and repairing their homes.
During this strike General Motors was a big powerful company, but the United Auto Workers union was just as big. They both refused to lower their guns and come to an agreement. Luckily, after two months of negotiations they finally came to an agreement.
At the end of the strike on November 23rd, 1970 GM employees saw a 13% wage increase and a few other concessions. At the time the average worker made $4/hour but was closer to $6/hour with their benefits. This pay increase would result in workers getting paid roughly $4.52/hour.