A snow-white shirt for most people is a symbol of purity and celebration, but the idea of celebrating February 11 is quite different. National White Shirt Day was established to mark the end of the Flint strike, which forced industrialists to respect employees and improve working conditions.
At the beginning of the 20th century. there was a collapse of the Stock Market, which was the beginning of the Great Depression. Owners of car factories began to lay off employees and then hire them, but working conditions became much worse, and wages decreased several times.
In 1935, the first trade unions appeared, but they were still too weak. In 1936, employees of the plant in Flint (Michigan), part of the GM Corporation, demanded either the complete closure of the plant or the cessation of the reception of workers on more stringent conditions than before the crisis. The owners did not respond to the pickets. Employees blocked the body shop, did not allow workers to enter it and sat in the building for 44 days.
Their protest went down in history as the Flint Sit-in. The actions of the workers led to significant changes and helped the United Union of Workers of the Automotive Industry to strengthen its position, to force the owners to reckon with the wishes of the workers.
One of the slogans read, “Bosses should be as clean as workers’ shirts.” After all, white shirts were allowed to be worn only by the heads of shops and shifts that did not fall under the reduction. The workers dressed in snow-white shirts, which became a symbol of the strike. Subsequently, this expression inspired the creation of the National White Shirt Day holiday. It was first celebrated in 1948 on February 11.
How to celebrate
An excellent occasion to learn more about the history of the creation of trade unions, as well as to evaluate its work in your company.
On this day, large-scale events are held in all cities where branches of the famous General Motors Corporation operate.
You can support the workers of the automotive industry by launching publications in social networks with #NationalWhiteShirtDay.
When is White Shirt Day celebrated in 2024?
White Shirt Day is observed on February 11 each year.