“Golden Age” of Detroit Auto Industry: Not So Golden


Health Editor’s Note: Here is a behind the scenes view into the Detroit auto industry after WWII.  Post war shortage of materials, wildcat strikes, layoffs, etc. all took their toll on the workers…Carol 

Separating Truth From Myth in the So-Called ‘Golden Age’ of the Detroit Auto Industry

by Daniel J. Clark, Zocalo Public Square   Smithsonian.com

In the popular as well as the political imagination, the 1950s were a golden age for American industrial workers, especially for the hundreds of thousands who toiled in Detroit’s auto factories. The story holds that lucrative contracts negotiated by the United Automobile Workers resulted in rising wages and improved benefits like pensions and health care. A blue-collar elite emerged: primarily white male, industrial wage earners who stepped up into America’s middle class and bought homes in the suburbs, eagerly purchased new cars, owned cabins “up north” in Michigan, and sent their children to college.

But as a historian of Detroit’s autoworkers, I’ve come to realize that no one back then saw things that way. All but the most stubborn local boosters recognized that the auto industry was always volatile, and that auto work was always precarious. Throughout most of the 1950s, the big three automakers mostly earned hefty profits—but autoworkers themselves suffered from layoffs and insecurity beneath those numbers. The post-World War II boom that is central to our understanding of 20th-century American history, not to mention the autoworkers who are said to have led that boom, must all be reconsidered.

Read more:

Due to the nature of independent content, VT cannot guarantee content validity.
We ask you to Read Our Content Policy so a clear comprehension of VT's independent non-censored media is understood and given its proper place in the world of news, opinion and media.

All content is owned by author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images within are full responsibility of author and NOT VT.

About VT - Read Full Policy Notice - Comment Policy