Car industry: reading guide

Car industry: reading guide's reading guide on working life and struggles written by and about workers in the global automobile industry.

Key texts

Key people, groups and publications

  • League of Revolutionary Black Workers – Organisation of African-American radicals from the late-1960s/early-1970s, largely organised into various ‘Revolutionary Union Movements based in the Detroit car industry.
  • Solidarity Motor Bulletins - Series of bulletins from UK libertarian socialist group, Solidarity, from the 1970s about the global car manufacturing industry, produced largely by and for car workers themselves.
  • Mechanics Educational Society of America - Union which pioneered the organisation of skilled autoworkers, refused to sign the no-strike pledge and fought against CIO incursions into their organized shops.
  • United Auto Workers - American labour union representing car industry workers.
  • Martin Glaberman - American Marxist and Detroit car factory worker associated with the Johnson-Forest Tendency. Wrote extensively on Detroit struggles, including criticisms of the unions and racism in the car industry.
  • Ken Weller - British libertarian socialist, member of Solidarity and car factory worker. He was heavily involved in producing the Solidarity Motor Bulletins and wrote many important texts on car industry workers’ struggles.


Important struggles

Workers’ stories

Managing the industry

Other recommended texts

Other media

  • Rivethead - Ben Hamper – Novel written by an American car factory worker during shifts on the shop floor, Rivethead details the down and out memoirs of a line assembly worker for GM Motors over the 1980s.
  • We Want Everything: A Novel - Nanni Balestrini - Nanni Balestrini’s fictionalized account of the Hot Autumn, in which a young worker from Italy’s impoverished south arrives at Fiat’s Mirafiori factory in Turin, where he finds himself in conflict with the bosses and the entire capitalist system.
  • Images from 1934 Autolite strike – Photo gallery of one of the most important and dramatic strikes in US history.
  • 1932: the Ford Hunger March massacre – Photo gallery of an autoworkers’ demonstration in Detroit, where police and Ford security guards killed 4 and injured 60 when they opened fire on a protest organized by the Communist Party USA's Unemployed Council.
  • Blue Collar – American crime drama starring Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor as two Detroit autoworkers who rob their corrupt union, finding themselves in conflict with both union and management.
  • The Working Class Goes to Heaven (La Classe Operaio Va in Paradiso) – Fantastic Italian film from 1971 depicting a car factory worker’s radicalisation after an injury at work, resisting his condition as a tool in the production process and, as a result, the politics of the trade unions.
  • Made in Dagenham – Film about the 1968 Ford sewing machinists’ strike by women workers in protest at the company’s sexual discrimination and demanding equal pay.


Mar 24 2017 19:16

This is great!

Don't know if you saw but another reader recommended we do one of these for dockworkers' struggles, which I also think would be really good

Jun 8 2017 02:10

This is a great list but it's missing Bill Watson's fantastic "Counter-planning on the Factory Floor" in Radical America, May-June 1971 at