THE TREATY OF DETROIT
Pressures growing out of employee dissatisfaction, unrest, union politics ... all were interfering with our production processes. From our standpoint, a better method of wage determination had to be found.
- Harry W. Anderson, Behind the GM Wage Program, 1950
The plain truth is that factory work is degrading.
— Harvey Swados, "The Myth of the Happy Worker," 1957
On April 20, 1948, the UAW executive board meeting at the Book-Cadillac Hotel ran well into the evening. There was much to discuss: strike prospects at Chrysler, the complicated GM negotiations, Truman's chances in the fall. After it was over, several officers headed for the bar, but as usual Reuther drove straight home, only stopping briefly at the UAW headquarters to pick up a few papers. He reached his house in Northwest Detroit at 9:40 P.M. Reuther ate a dish of warmed-over stew at the breakfast bar, then went to the refrigerator to get a bowl of peaches. As he turned to reply to a casual remark by May, a blast of Double O buckshot from a twelve-gauge shotgun smashed through the kitchen window. Four pellets ripped into Reuther's right arm, and a fifth plowed through his chest. He fell to the floor, his arm a bloody confusion of bone and muscle. Most of the buckshot perforated a kitchen cupboard. Had Reuther not turned at the last moment, the full force of the blast would have blown out his chest.
Reuther remained conscious; indeed, he crawled onto the back porch to try to glimpse his assailant. "Those dirty bastards!" he cried out to the neighbors who