Video: UAW Marching Bass Band Drum


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“Hi, my name is Gavin Strassel and I’m the UAW archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.

This bass drum was part of a small marching band that came from UAW Local 3, which represented workers at the Dodge Main plant in Detroit. When the UAW finally organized Chrysler after a long sit-down strike in 1937, the workers marched out of the factory, and they were led by the marching band and this bass drum.

The rhythmic pounding of the drum really added to the sense of triumph and was a huge moment for those workers.”


History of UAW Local 3: 

UAW Local 3 was the bargaining unit for workers at the Dodge Main Plant in Hamtramck, Michigan from 1935 to January 1980, when the Hamtramck Assembly was demolished. Its 26,000 members made it the largest single plant local in the country in 1937.

The roots of UAW Local 3 lie in the company union Works Councils and AFL Federal Labor Union #18277, both of which functioned in the plant from 1933 to 1935. In 1935, FLU #18277 became the AFL-United Automobile Workers Union (UAW) and the ineffectivecompany-sponsored Works Council was transformed into the independent Automotive Industrial Workers’ Association (AIWA) by early UAW leaders and Dodge Main workers Richard Frankensteen, John Zaremba, and C. Pat Quinn, with the support of Royal Oak radio priest, Father Charles Coughlin.

After the infant UAW affiliated with the emerging Committee of Industrial Organizations at the second UAW Convention in 1936, the AIWA merged with the UAW-CIO making it the sole bargaining unit at the massive Dodge Main facility.

Local 3 was involved in many important activities in the UAW. It served as the initial base of support for UAW vice-president Richard Frankensteen in the early intra-union factionalism of the UAW. During the UAW’s formative years, Local 3 was famous in the Detroit area for its active flying squadron unit. It was also the birthplace of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM). DRUM was organized by dissident African American unionists and spread to other auto plants during its peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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