The Strike That Changed U.S. Labor : Planet Money The 1937 agreement between GM and the United Auto Workers union ushered in a period of strength for organized labor. Today, labor is nowhere near as powerful as it used to be. What happened?

The Strike That Changed U.S. Labor

Sheldon Dick/Getty Images
Members of the nascent United Auto Workers Union (UAW) during a sit-down strike in the General Motors Fisher Body Plant in Flint, Michigan. (Photo by Sheldon Dick/Getty Images)
Sheldon Dick/Getty Images

On February 11, 1937, General Motors and the United Auto Workers union signed a landmark agreement. A union contract. The relationship with U.S. automakers and the labor movement ushered in a period of tremendous worker prosperity and union strength that lasted decades. Today, though, unions are a shadow of their former selves and are sometimes even vilified for dragging down companies and hamstringing workers. What happened? How did unions lose their mojo?

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