This Day in History

Feb. 16, 1936: Akron Rubber Strike

Time Periods: 20th Century
Themes: Labor

On Feb. 16, 1936, rubber workers began a sit-down strike at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio. The Ohio History Connection offers a detailed description:

Photo of striking rubber workers clashing with police in Akron Ohio, 1936

Akron police clash with strikers from the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Akron, Summit County, 1938. Source: Ohio History Connection

The strike began as a protest against a plan created by Goodyear to reduce wages and increase the pace of production. The workers utilized the concept of the “sit-down” strike.

In the past, when workers went on strike they would leave the factory to join picket lines. Company owners often hired “scab” laborers to cross the picket lines and continue production. The practice of using scab labor made it difficult for striking workers to obtain their demands.

In contrast, in a sit-down strike, workers quit working but still occupied their places within the factory. This process meant that the factory owners could not send in additional workers to continue the job. In addition, factory management was more reluctant to use private security forces or other strikebreakers to intimidate the striking workers, as that approach threatened destruction to plant property.

Learn more about the strike in the Ohio History Connection article, from the first-hand account of the strike by labor organizer Rose Pesotta, and through its Historical Marker database page.