United Auto Workers – April 10, 1941

United Automobile Workers

1941 – Ford Motor Co. became the last major automaker to recognize the United Auto Workers as the representative for its workers.

Henry Ford, the company’s founder, was vehemently antiunion, and his position appeared firmly entrenched. Newly enacted federal labor legislation, the National Labor Relations Act (also known as the Wagner Act) of 1935, ran counter to Ford’s modus operandi. Between 1937 and 1941 almost every plant Ford operated had been brought up on charges before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the body charged with enforcing the 1935 law. The situation came to a head in 1941 after years of litigation and clear signs the company could be in financial peril if it did not submit to collective bargaining. The NLRB called an election for 21 May 1941 at all the Ford plants in Dearborn, Michigan, in which the UAW-CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) had won the right to represent workers. This election paved the way for successful labor negotiations between the parties and an excellent contract for Ford union members.