Jacobin Radio: Strike at the Big Three w/ Nelson Lichtenstein

Suzi talks to historian and labor expert Nelson Lichtenstein about the historic, first-ever simultaneous strike against the Big Three automakers. Thirteen thousand workers, about 10% of UAW members at the Big Three, walked out of assembly plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri on September 14. Instead of striking at all plants at once, the UAW is using a novel tactic they’re calling the “Stand-Up” strike with workers at select locals standing up and walking out on strike. Shawn Fain, the new militant leader of the UAW, says this tactic keeps companies guessing which other locals will be next. Nelson Lichtenstein looks at this strike in the context of the history of the UAW, the leading role the UAW played in the 1937 sit-down strikes that exemplified the power of the labor movement, and how auto workers have in many ways been canaries in the coal mine for the US working class writ large. There is broad support for striking workers, and auto workers are joining writers, actors, hotel workers, and others in this season of strikes. Are these strikes opening a new period, igniting a newly energized working class, with the UAW again in a leading role?

Jacobin Radio with Suzi Weissman features conversations with leading thinkers and activists, with a focus on labor, the economy, and protest movements.

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