Timely: A unique and historical exploration of the shrinking middle class and economic inequality in America through the lens of Flint, a city currently receiving international coverage for its ongoing water crisis. The comparisons to today are uncanny. Here we are again, with inequality, a gutted middle class facing another great depression.
First trade book on the Sit-Down strike.
Includes unpublished archival research and previously untold stories of dozens of strikers from interviews conducted in the 1970s. The Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936 is arguably the most important strike in US history because it changed the United Autoworkers union—the UAW—from being a small collection of locals into one major union. The UAW then became the bellwether for changes in every industry across the country that set the standard for wages, collective bargaining, retirement, and other workers rights paving the way for the middle class.
“[A] fascinating labor struggle. Readers interested in American labor and social history will find McClelland’s engagingly written, informative work a key to understanding the voices and roles of those who advocated for better working conditions for all working-class people.”
“A spirited history of labor’s triumph.”
“Students of labor history will relish this enthusiastic chronicle of a victory for ordinary workers.”
“In Midnight in Vehicle City, Edward McClelland draws out such lessons from the past and offers them up to workers fighting new battles in long conflict.”
—Chicago Review of Books
“[McClelland’s] chronicle of the strike is compelling.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Brings a fresh look to the seminal moment in Flint’s contribution to American history.”
—East Village Magazine
“Remarkably timely…Reads like a story of master tacticians fighting a battle.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“McClelland writes with grace and insight about one of the most consequential, world-shaking labor strikes of all time. What a gift! Midnight in Vehicle City gives us both precision and power in the telling of an astonishing story with so much to teach those of us today who are wrestling with inequality and exploitation in the twenty-first century.”
—Anna Clark, author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy
“Midnight in Vehicle City captures the Flint of today through the captivating story of the city’s past. McClelland reveals the toughness, determination, and even recklessness that fueled autoworkers and their families in 1936 as they took on a corporate giant, the military, and an unsympathetic press. If you ever wonder why current Flint residents haven’t given up, this book is an engaging reminder that fighting seemingly unwinnable battles is part of the city’s DNA.”
—Gordon Young, author of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City
“Lively and dramatic…from the shop floor to kitchen tables to furtively organized midnight meetings, McClelland paints wonderfully resonant portraits of individual workers…a book not just for students but also Walmart clerks, Amazon warehouse workers, and McDonald’s ‘associates,’ who will be inspired as they make their own history.”
—Nelson Lichtenstein, author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor
“McClelland’s lively and lucid narrative of this central event in labor history is a timely reminder that when workers act together they can bring about significant change—not just for themselves but for society at large.”
—Timothy Noah, author of The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It
“The battles were fought bitterly, often viciously, with rocks and bottles, blackjacks and hammers, against the brick-and-soot backdrop of America’s industrial cities in the 1930s. The war was for the dignity of the American worker; the tactic was the strike…. A vivid, granular drama rich with characters, scenes, and the soulful gravity of the worker’s fight for decency.”
—David Giffels, author of Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America
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