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?
NPR logo The Strike That Changed U.S. Labor

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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