Image: White Shirt Day

Flint’s UAW Local 659 celebrated “White Shirt Day” on Feb. 11 at 11 a.m.

Feb. 11 is the 82nd anniversary of the end of a sit-down strike at General Motors Plants in Flint.

The strike began in 1936 when workers protested anti-union sentiments, brutal working conditions, and low wages.

>>Related: Eric Jylha takes a look back at the sit-down strike<<

Workers were on strike for 44 days, locking themselves inside the plant until General Motors finally agreed to recognize the United Autoworkers Union (UAW).

The UAW became the official bargaining representative for all GM employees, securing pay increases and lunch breaks for all their workers.

"We wouldn't have the healthcare, time-off, vacation time, we wouldn't have benefits like sick-leave," said Anthony Odom, Chairman of the Trustees UAW.

Following news that GM plants will be closing across the country, laying off thousands of workers, GM is set to bring thousands of jobs to Flint this year. 

"I think about what we're dealing with right now. This country stepped up to support the American auto industry, invested in American auto. Now we're just asking them to invest back in us, who invest in plants right here," US Congressman Dan Kildee said. 

With all the changes coming to the auto industry, US Senator Gary Peters said it's important to remember what "White Shirt Day" is all about. 

"It's about people coming together, standing up for their rights, have a fair wage and collectively bargain," Peters said. 

Workers coined the day “White Shirt Day” because they said with the increase in wages, they could now afford to buy white dress shirts.

Workers have made it tradition to celebrate every year on Feb. 11.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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