When people think of white shirts, they think about the workforce and how often you have to keep those shirts clean and tidy at jobs. However, White Shirt Day has a completely different purpose in mind.
White Shirt Day honors the men and women who work in the automobile industry and helps people remember the Flint sit-down strike. This strike helped inspire many government officials to institute better protections for workers from powerful companies.
History of White Shirt Day
White Shirt Day may sound like another collar-worker holiday, but it actually marks a significant time in history.
During the 1930s, during the times of the Great Depression, union groups began to pop up as a way to protect workers from unfair treatment. They fought to develop insurance, payroll, and health and safety regulations. The United Automobile Workers union had only existed since 1935 during that time and helped bring automobile workers together.
However, organizing in such fashion was a dangerous time, as General Motors, a significantly successful company during that time, had almost complete control over the politics of the Flint, Michigan region, maintaining spies to keep their workers in line. Many of the conditions of the time were horrible for those workers, often resulting in deaths.
The UAW, kept in secret, organized a rally at the Cleveland’s Fisher Body plant, where workers would remain inside the plants but would not work, keeping people outside from the plant, and refusing the leave the premises. The Flint sit-down strike was conducted a way to revolt against the harsh conditions, and the union itself helped form civil systems to maintain order within the plant.
White Shirt Day is inspired by the idea that those revolting had, that their shirts should be kept as clean as their bosses. White Shirt Day thus remembers this significant moment in history, as it helped inspire the protections of automobile workers and helped form powerful unions today.
How to Celebrate White Shirt Day
Wear a white shirt, and try and keep it clean as much as possible. Support those you know working in the automobile industry and give them thanks for the hard work they do.
Take some time to research how the strike inspired many other unions to form, how the responses of that time period helped create better working conditions for many people in the workforce today. Share this information with your friends and colleagues and tell them about the significance of this event.