89.1 WEMU

Ypsilanti Railroad Workers Played Large Role In The Labor Movement

Sep 4, 2017

Ypsilanti Rail Depot and Freighthouse
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Like many states, Michigan began observing the Labor Day holiday in 1894.  Washtenaw County played a role in developing the movement before it became a holiday.  

With Detroit nearby, locomotive union leaders lived in the area including the City of Ypsilanti.  It was during the 1860's that leaders in Ypsilanti organized large union strikes that started to get a lot of attention.

Matt Siegfried is a local historian.

"Because those were first times an industry was connected all over the country.  So, you know, if something affects workers in the train stations in Detroit, it will affect how those trains operate to Chicago that same day.  And it's one of the, you know, the first industries that was like that, where workers organized over the whole industry because they affected immediately."

Paper mill workers in Ypsilanti also fought for eight-hour work days during the 1880's.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu