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Disruption in DetroitAutoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom$
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Daniel J Clark

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042010

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042010.001.0001

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Shortages and Strikes, 1945–1948

Shortages and Strikes, 1945–1948

(p.17) 1 Shortages and Strikes, 1945–1948
Disruption in Detroit

Daniel J. Clark

University of Illinois Press

After earning the nickname "The Arsenal of Democracy" during WWII, Detroit’s auto plants experienced production disruptions during postwar reconversion to civilian production. This meant significant layoffs, especially for women autoworkers. Shortages of crucial materials, often caused by steel strikes and coal strikes, made auto employment sporadic. Authorized strikes in the auto industry, including the 1946 GM strike called by Walter Reuther, and unauthorized "wildcat" strikes, all contributed to ongoing instability. Cold weather, hot weather, and federal credit regulations played roles as well. As a result, autoworkers experienced persistent layoffs even though auto companies managed to earn profits during the early postwar years. By late 1948, no one in the industry thought that the postwar boom had arrived.

Keywords:   postwar boom, autoworkers, women autoworkers, layoffs, postwar reconversion, steel strike, coal strike, wildcat strike, 1946 GM strike, Walter Reuther

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