Labor Matters: A Tribute to Auto Workers
The Automobile The Factory The Workers The Union Patriotism Democracy Teamwork Progress
  In Defense of a Free and Just Society

mural detail: Minnie On the eve of U.S. involvement in World War II, the Big Three auto makers - GM, Ford and Chrysler - were organized. But victories on the labor front would have to wait. One day after the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor, the UAW adopted a no-strike pledge for the duration of the war, demonstrating patriotism that endures to this day in UAW policies.

On a pedestal of courage, Minnie stands here an equal partner at work. Building on a long history of industrial employment in textiles, clothing and electronics, women worked in heavy industry during the war in plants that operated with unparalleled productivity.

After the war, women faced another fight, this one for equal opportunity to continue to contribute fully to the economy and to develop their own abilities.

Milestones still mark the way.

« go back   |   mural   |   continue »

Voices from History
Have you heard that
Minnie''s in the money?
Take my word that Minnie''s
In the money.

She hasn''t got a guy who''s
Got a diamond mine,
But she''s a welder on the
Old assembly line.

She''s helping Uncle Sam to
Keep his people free,
She''s okay - hey, Minnie''s in
The do-re-mi.

-Minnie''s in the Money
Benny Goodman''s wartime
jazz hit song

Did You Know?
At the height of the war effort, more than 87,000 people worked at the three GM plants in Buffalo, all converted to prodcution of war materiel. By 1944, women made up 51% of the Buffalo area industrial workforce.

UAW Local 686 at Harrison Radiator in Lockport (now Delphi) negotiated its first contract in 1942. The one-page document recognized the union, increased wages equal to other GM plants and gave women equal pay for equal work.

In 1998, Geraldine Ochocinska became the first woman elected regional director of the UAW. Re-elected in 2002, she directs the newly enlarged region that includes New York, New Jersey, and most of Pennsylvania.