Victor G. Reuther: January 1, 1912—June 3, 2004Jim McNeill
n January 11, 1937, two weeks into the epic sit-down strike at General Motors in Flint, Michigan, a young socialist named Victor Reuther arrived in a rickety sound car at GM’s Fisher Body Plant No. 2. GM had just turned off the plant’s heat—it was 16 degrees outside—and cut off food to the sit-down strikers inside. Reuther, seeking to lift the strikers’ spirits, asked if they’d like to hear a song. “Can the music,” they cried, “get us some food.”
Young Reuther did as he was told. Quickly, he organized a group of pickets outside the plant to face down the company guards at its gates. Outnumbered, the guards retreated. The food was delivered, the strikers cheered. But suddenly, in squad cars and on foot, Flint’s police force surged up the street. firing tear-gas shells before them, the police scattered the pickets and seemed poised to tout the strikers inside.