While labor unions have existed in Michigan since statehood, few were organized until the 1930s. A number of factors contributed to their growth, including auto industry automation, the uncertainties of the Great Depression, and the pro-labor New Deal environment. The most famous confrontation between labor and management was the 1936 sit-down strike in Flint, which led to General Motors accepting the United Auto Workers as the sole bargaining agent for its employees.
In contrast to the Depression, the 1950s were an era of great growth and prosperity. Only Florida and California attracted more people during the decade. The rise of the number of school-age children led, in part, to the greatest expansion of the state’s educational system and the founding of new community colleges and other facilities of higher education. While plans to build a bridge connecting the state’s two peninsulas had existed as early as 1884, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Mackinac Bridge Authority was founded and funds were raised. Work on the bridge began in 1954, one of the largest and most innovative engineering projects in the country. “Big Mac” opened to the public on November 1, 1957, at last linking the two disparate halves of the state.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel