| 1101 Champlain Street | In 1934, workers at the Electric Auto-Lite Company and other auto-related manufacturers secretly organized the Automobile Workers Federal Union Local 18384, American Federation of Labor (AFL), which became the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 12. Anti-unionism and broken pledges by management had festered locally for generations. Workers bitterly resented the fact that management took advantage of the Depression era's high unemployment rate to lower wages. In February, workers struck at Bingham Stamping, Logan Gear, and Spicer Manufacturing Company. When management refused to negotiate in good faith, the workers struck the Auto-Lite in mid-April. Auto-Lite management secured a court order limiting the number of strikers to twenty-five but the Lucas County Unemployed League organized a very public resistance to the court injunction and the crowd around the plant grew to what some estimated to be ten thousand protesters.

As the conflict escalated, Governor George White ordered in the largest peacetime deployment of the Ohio National Guard. Machine guns were mounted near the Elm Street Bridge and other locations. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Guard did little to quell the situation.  Strikers and Guardsmen battled with bricks and tear gas. On May 24, 1934, during what has been called the "Battle of Chestnut Hill," Guardsmen fired into the crowd, killing onlookers Steve Cyigon and Frank Hubay. As a result, area workers threatened a general strike and Auto-Lite acquiesced to become one of the first large automotive manufacturers to recognize the union. The Auto-Lite Strike was covered in national newspaper and radio stories and it eventually played a major role in both the creation of landmark Federal labor laws under the Wagner Act and the founding of the UAW in 1935.  READ MORE...