Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Battle of the Overpass
The United Auto Workers had planned a leaflet campaign at the pedestrian overpass over Miller Road at Gate 4 of the Rouge complex. The overpass connected the employee parking lot with the Ford factories. The campaign was planned for shift change time, as workers both entered and left the plant.
About 2 pm, several of the leading UAW organizers, including Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen, were asked by a Detroit News photographer to pose for a picture at the top of the steps of the overpass. While they were posing, men from Ford's "Service Department", an internal security force led by Harry Bennett , came from behind and began to beat them. They then beat some of the women arriving to pass out leaflets, and some reporters and photographers. They attempted to destroy photographic plates, but one News photographer was able to smuggle his away and photos of the brutality were spread across the country.
The incident greatly increased support for the UAW and hurt Ford's reputation. However, it still took 4 more years before Ford agreed to collective bargaining with the UAW.
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