Disruption in Detroit: Autoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom

Disruption in Detroit: Autoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom

by Daniel J. Clark

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It is a bedrock American belief: the 1950s were a golden age of prosperity for autoworkers. Flush with high wages and enjoying the benefits of generous union contracts, these workers became the backbone of a thriving blue-collar middle class. It is also a myth. Daniel J. Clark began by interviewing dozens of former autoworkers in the Detroit area and found a different story—one of economic insecurity caused by frequent layoffs, unrealized contract provisions, and indispensable second jobs. Disruption in Detroit is a vivid portrait of workers and an industry that experienced anything but stable prosperity. As Clark reveals, the myths—whether of rising incomes or hard-nosed union bargaining success—came later. In the 1950s, ordinary autoworkers, union leaders, and auto company executives recognized that although jobs in their industry paid high wages, they were far from steady and often impossible to find.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252083709
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 09/14/2018
Series: Working Class in American History Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 266
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Daniel J. Clark is an associate professor of history at Oakland University, Michigan. He is the author of Like Night and Day: Unionization in a Southern Mill Town.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Shortages and Strikes, 1945-1948 17

2 The Era of "The Treaty of Detroit," 1949-1950 35

3 No Longer the Arsenal of Democracy, 1951-1952 54

4 A Post-Korean War Boom, 1953 72

5 A "Painfully Inconvenient" Recession, 1954 90

6 "The Fifties" in One Year, 1955 110

7 "A Severe and Prolonged Hangover" 1956-1957 129

8 The Nadir, 1958 147

9 "What IS happening? Which way ARE we headed?" 1959-1960 166

Conclusion 179

Notes 185

Selected Bibliography 233

Index 237

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