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Lansing Labor News
Established 1945
April 25, 2018
June 3 Commemoration of Lansing General Strike
Posted On: May 29, 2017

Good information from John Beck of the MSU Labor Education Program: On Saturday, on June 3, we will commemorate the 80th anniversary of a largely overlooked event in the history of Lansing. On June 3 we will unveil a new State of Michigan historical marker  honoring the Lansing Labor Holiday. You are invited to come be part of the festivities.
See the Facebook page at
and information below:
80 years ago this June, workers in Lansing staged a one-day general strike which came to be known as the Lansing Labor Holiday. By the start of the work day on June 7, between 2,000 and 5,000 union members and sympathizers poured into the downtown streets, forcing the closing of many shops, factories, theaters, and business of all kinds.  Workers paraded down the streets of the city singing labor songs, while UAW-AFL organizer Lester Washburn and other union representatives successfully negotiated the release of those imprisoned for illegal picketing (including Washburn’s wife , Nevah). By nightfall after the intervention of Governor Frank Murphy, the holiday was over and before long, Capital City Wrecking crew workers negotiated a contract with its workers. 

The Lansing Labor Holiday was a rare instance of a mass, spontaneous demonstration by the working class of the city of Lansing to address injustice standing in the way of the momentum of the union organizing of the late 1930s. The workers forcefully demanded that the new industrial relations regime, ushered in by the passage of the Wagner Act of 1935 work for them. The peaceful and successful Lansing Labor Holiday gave voice to the desires of this generation of newly empowered workers.

We are planning on the public event for the commemoration of the Lansing Labor Holiday on the Saturday (6/3) before the anniversary (6/7) which happens to be “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” day here in Lansing.

The event will be held on City Hall Plaza (corner of Michigan and Capitol Avenues) at 1 PM. The event will include short addresses from local, state and national labor leaders. The event will also feature labor music and a number of classic cars from the period and new Lansing products recreating the park-in on Michigan Avenue. Plans also include the unveiling of the Lansing Labor Holiday State Historical Marker.
Current Schedule:
1 PM - Kick-off with labor music by Chris Buhalis
Remarks from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, State Representative Andy Schor and Others
Remarks from UAW Region 1-D Director Gerald Kariem
Remarks from USW Region 2 Director Michael Bolton (invited, but not yet confirmed)
Unveiling of Marker (Tom Truscott, a Historical Commission member will be there to help unveil the marker)
The Lansing Historical Society has already opened its new exhibit focusing on the year 1937 in the lobby of the Lansing City hall building and it will be open on June 3.  By focusing on the year 1937, the exhibit explores the local events (they have located, for example, five sources which have photographs from the Lansing Labor Holiday which will be used in the exhibit) and will put them within a larger state, national and global context.

The exhibit will feature such things as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the Hindenburg disaster, the Flint Sit-down Strike, the novels of the day (Of Mice and Men, e.g.), the movies of the day (Shirley Temple’s “Heidi” and Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”) and other events and matters connected to the year.

Our Lansing Labor Holiday Facebook page is great so check it out at Kevin Beard has created content for the page including oral history interviews with strike leader Lester Washburn along with photos from the day.

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