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 storyone 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 mythswhether of rising incomes or hard-nosed union bargaining successcame 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.
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
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
Selected Bibliography 233