Women’s involvement in the United Auto Worker is crucial. Not only as members of the Women’s Auxiliary and the Women’s Emergency Brigade, both of which were instrumental in helping win strikes such as the Flint Sit-Downs, but also as workers themselves.
Women are a vital piece of the UAW and we need your help! Even if you don’t work in a factory, you can still do your part to ensure the health and prosperity of all workers. Most factories, especially auto factories, employ almost only men. We need help from more than just the workers. If workers are engaging in a sit-down strike, we need people outside the factory, walking the picket line. We need people delivering supplies and working in the commissary kitchen to enable the workers to continue striking. The Women’s Emergency Brigade was instrumental in the victories in Flint. Without their help and support, the workers would not have been able to sustain the sit-ins. It is important to know however, that these activities do come with risks. As in Flint, it is possible for picketers to be accosted by the police. While this kind of reaction is possible, do not let it discourage you from participating. .
In addition to helping with UAW-sponsored strikes, women across all industries have been organizing, striking, and gaining victories across the country. In early 1937, women were the leading organizers of the longest sit-down strike in history, an amazing 149-day strike of the cigar factory workers. After the Detroit mayor in conjunction with the police commissioner ordered police into the factories where workers were sitting-in, and beat the strikers, many in the community came out in favor of the women strikers. Homer Martin vowed that the UAW was prepared to call a general strike in the auto industry if the brutality was not stopped. A delegation of women went to see Governor Murphy. Murphy vowed to help the cigar strikers. Many other women workers all across Detroit joined them, including women from the National Biscuit Company, American Lady Corset Company, Yale and Town Manufacturing Company, Woolworths, and the WPA. .