Who was Rev. Bradford?
"The Forgotten Man's Hour"
Father Charles Coughlin
The Ford Hunger March
The River Rouge Plant
African Americans and the Success of the CIO
Lewis Bradford
Harry Bennett
The Battle of the Overpass
Layoffs and Intimidation
Muriel Lester
Lewis is Attacked
Lewis Dies
Locating the Autopsy
A City Mourns
Who Knew?
UAW Wins at Ford


Layoffs and Intimidation

In September 1937, 75,000 of the 87,000 workers at the Rouge were laid off. Labor charged that the layoffs were a ploy to break the momentum built up by the massive surge of strikes and labor organizing, and as a message to workers: See what happens to jobs when the union comes to town.

The eyes of the world were focused on Detroit. There was change in the air. City council elections were coming - and there were 5 labor candidates, including Maurice Sugar, Walter Reuther and others alleged to be Communists or Socialists. The fledgling auto workers union showed its strength in the October runoffs - all 5 candidates did well, building on a broad labor-liberal-black consituency. The New York Times proclaimed them "sure winners." Walter Reuther declared that labor would "put its best picket captain" in the job of Chief of Police. (p. 88, Walter Reuther: The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit, by Nelson Lichtenstein, 1995).

Through this time, Father Coughlin became more controversial, and along with Henry Ford, more openly supportive of Hitler. He was unable to raise the huge amounts of money through his broadcasts, perhaps because of his increasingly shrill tone, and began to receive large amounts of money from Ford. (p. 330, Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio by Donald Warren, 1996).

As the November, 1937 elections approached, Coughlin became more strident. On October 3, 1937 in a radio broadcast he asked: "Do you want Detroit run by Labor Tyranny?" and suggested the Communists will take over. At the same time, Coughlin was working closely with Harry Bennett on several schemes to stop the UAW and bring in a company union at the Rouge. (p. 147, Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio by Donald Warren, 1996).

Clip from "Radio, Guns and Money", soloists: Davis Gloff, Henry Nelson, Mark Moultrup.

Bradford's radio show got more outspoken - he had transformed at this point, and rather than achieving a dream of transforming Ford Motor Company by bringing labor and management together, was being threatened himself. He formed a group called the League of One Thousand Men.

The anti-communist hysteria crescendoed - Ford, Coughlin and Bennett worked together on a successful get-out-the-vote campaign. On election day, voter turnout was doubled over turnouts in previous years. All five labor candidates lost the election.

Ford was victorious - Bennett was victorious - they were determined to stall the National Labor Relations Board both on a legal front - and continue the illegal activities in the plant. They vowed to wait until 1940. The NLRB was seen as a creation of Roosevelt - and in 1940 they could use the same money, and the same tactics used in the Detroit elections, to win the presidency back from Roosevelt.

The campaign of intimidation was set to continue. A New York Times article of January 23, 1938, reported that in the previous six weeks, there had been 900 arrests of union leafletters in the city of Dearborn. (p.398, The Legend of Henry Ford, by Keith Sward, 1948).

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