Texas Liberal

All People Matter

How Many Auto Workers Who Moved To Detroit Suburbs Ever Cared About What They Were Leaving Behind?

File:Ford Piquette Avenue Plant - Detroit Michigan.jpg

Above is a former Ford auto plant in Piquette Street industrial district of Detroit.

This Piquette Street area is on the list of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Here is information about the Piquette Street Ford plant. Many famous car models were made at this plant.

Here is a link listing the plants and factories that once existed in this area.

I’ve been thinking today about how many auto workers moved to the Detroit suburbs without any care about the future of the City of Detroit. Many of them were content enough to leave that city in ever-growing poverty.

I’ve been thinking about how the Detroit suburb of Macomb County, Michigan was the heart of the so-called Reagan Democrat trend in the 1980’s (Though Mr. Obama did win the county in 2008.)

I don’t believe in karma, but it does seem that a number of things have caught up with Michigan’s auto workers.

I hope as many jobs stay as possible in the Michigan auto industry. If we don’t care about fellow working people, who will?

Yet at the same time, I’m not going to lose sight of what many of these workers were and are, and the attitudes they have held over the years.

Here is some history of Detroit from two people who clearly spent a great deal of time working on it. It is comprehensive and quirky and well worth a look.

April 5, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,


  1. Before you sound off on the politics of auto workers, you might want to spend a bit of time learning about the aims and accomplishments of what is probably one of the most progressive institutions ever established in this country — the United Auto Workers. Read about how Walter Reuther and the union took on the well-entrenched corporate rulers in Michigan and beyond to promote little things like health care, decent wages, the right to vote, and a lot more. They did so for everyone, not just for UAW members, and at a very clear risk to their lives and livelihood. A good start might be “The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fare of American Labor,” by Nelson Lichtenstein.

    I’m proud to be union,
    Ted Melina Raab
    Austin, TX

    Comment by Ted Melina Raab | April 6, 2009

  2. Thanks for the counterpoint.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 6, 2009

  3. One doesn’t have anything to do with the other. He is talking about leaving a city for better pastures when that city is providing your livlihood..

    Comment by Floretta Fields | December 5, 2009

  4. Yes–I was. And while I don’t wish to ignore that some U.A.W folks were progressive in some respects, the record seems clear enough that many auto workers left Detroit without caring about folks left behind.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 7, 2009

  5. Neil, it would be much more useful to view suburban flight in context of social upheaval, resulting from a failure to assimilate the massive influx of workers into the auto industry. Most significantly, there were two major race riots in Detroit, first in 1943 and again in 1967. Whole sections of the city burned, and continued to burn each Halloween eve well into the 1990s. As the city’s demographics changed, retributive racial politics dominated.

    I’m sure most workers knew exactly what they were leaving behind; for the most part it’s still there. Diversity is fine and wonderful, just as long as you aren’t living in fear for your family’s basic safety.

    Comment by Phil R | February 24, 2010

  6. Phil R.–Blacks were denied full employment in these plants when the auto industry was doing well. While rioting is a self-destructive path, the great number of workers in these plants over the years did nothing to help others. Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | February 25, 2010

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