UAW Workers Once Used Horses On The Picket Line, Historical Photos Show

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For the first time in the nearly century-long history of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are simultaneously impacted by a strike. Individually, the union has bumped heads with Motown companies many times since its formation in 1935. And sometimes, horses joined workers on the picket lines. Wait, what?

UAW Archivist on Twitter is currently sharing images of striking workers throughout the decades, and the horses caught our attention. There is no date or context for the photos, and it’s not clear if the horseplay is tied to a single strike or multiple strikes. One image shows a horse that clearly references a strike against General Motors. We think the image of the gentlemen on horseback (representing Local 1262) comes from Illinois, but we don’t have a direct tie to a specific automaker in that situation. In any case, we’ll go out on a limb and just say these photos are old.

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Listed as the UAW’s official repository in its Twitter description, UAW Archivist isn’t just sharing old strike photos with animals involved. We see workers striking against Ford, with one image dated from 1937. Another series of black-and-white photos focuses on a strike against Chrysler in 1950.

 

Currently, 13,000 hourly workers from three assembly plants are on strike. The walkouts have shut down production of the Ford Bronco, Chevrolet Colorado, and Jeep Wrangler, and additional walkouts at other locations are expected in the days to come. According to Automotive News, rolling walkouts could extend the UAW’s $825 million strike fund, which is used to pay members who aren’t clocking in for work. As for vehicle production, estimates say Detroit automakers could lose upwards of 24,000 per week.

Striking workers are seeking pay raises of 36 percent with equal pay among working tiers, and a shift of temporary workers to full-time status. Also on the table are a return to defined benefit pensions, more time off, and future pay increases to match inflation. As the first day of this historic strike moves into the evening hours, there’s no indication that negotiations between the UAW and automakers have resumed.

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