Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Labor History Was Made Here

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Behind these locked gates once sat a massive General Motors complex where generations of Flint, Michigan, residents worked.

Known by many as “Chevy in the Hole,” the site is slowly being transformed into an urban park that will be known as Chevy Commons.

Work on the transformation began in March 2015 and is expected to cost nearly $2 million for its first phase.

Development of the Chevrolet Flint Manufacturing plant began in 1916 and at its peak the complex had 20 buildings of which eight were used for automotive assembly. Employment was 8,000 here and 89,000 in the Flint region.

Aside from building Chevrolet automobiles, the complex also produced engines, AC spark plugs and other automobile components.

GM began closing plants in Chevy in the Hole in 1984 and the last shift ended in 1992. Most of the buildings were demolished, the last of them being Plant 4 in 2004. The site became a vacant 13-acre brownfield.

The Chevy Commons park will be on the site where labor history was made with the start of the GM Sit-Down Strike that began in December 1936.

A marker along Chevrolet Boulevard tells the story of the strike and how it resulted in GM recognizing the United Auto Workers as the bargaining unit for GM workers in February 1937.

One surviving buildings has been donated to Kettering University, formerly the General Motors Institute while the other is still used as a GM tool and die shop.

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