The 44-day Flint sit-down strike of 1936-37 was the workers’ battle that defeated General Motors, the largest corporation in the world at the time. It transformed the United Autoworkers (UAW) from a fledgling campaign in the auto sector to the vanguard of a militant labour movement that spread across the continent and put employers on the back foot. Only months later in April 1937, GM workers in Oshawa followed suit with a strike that rooted the UAW (later the Canadian Autoworkers, now Unifor) in Canada.
In a male-dominated industry, the working-class women of Flint, including women GM workers, formed the Women’s Emergency Brigade to bolster picket lines and provide logistical support – clothing, food, necessities – for the workers occupation of the two GM Fisher Body plants.
Some forty years after the strike, the Women’s Emergency Brigade told their stories in this documentary “With Babies and Banners”. Between telling their stories and incredible film footage of the battle in Flint, the women also tell of their ongoing struggles for recognition and rights and against sexism within the United Autoworkers.