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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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“The Fifties” in One Year, 1955

“The Fifties” in One Year, 1955

(p.110) 6 “The Fifties” in One Year, 1955
Disruption in Detroit

Daniel J. Clark

University of Illinois Press

The year 1955 is the template for claims that the decade was a golden age for autoworkers. It began with auto plants operating at or near capacity, with multiple shifts. Business leaders predicted that the good times would last indefinitely. Nevertheless, unemployment remained high, and UAW leaders feared that excessive production early in the year would mean layoffs by fall. While production hummed at record rates, automakers and the UAW engaged in contract negotiations, with union leaders demanding a Guaranteed Annual Wage. Instead, the two sides settled on Supplemental Unemployment Benefits. Compared with any other year in the decade, 1955 brought high production, low unemployment, substantial profits for automakers, and steady pay for autoworkers, who were called the new labor aristocracy.

Keywords:   Detroit, Autoworkers, UAW, Unemployment, Layoffs, Guaranteed Annual Wage, Supplemental Unemployment Benefits, labor aristrocracy

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