GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) - (03/01/16) - It's the end of an era in Flint labor history. The last of the Sitdowners has died.
In 1936, workers at the GM Fisher Body plant in Flint locked out management and shut down the factory. Soon, employees at Chevy in the Hole followed suit. The Sitdown Strike lasted 44 days and led to General Motors recognizing the United Auto Workers as the sole bargaining unit for the workers.
The strike changed labor relations around the country. Those who were part of the strike were hailed as heroes by many.
Saturday, the last known Sitdowner, Richard Wiecorek, passed away at the age of 99.
"Yes, he was very proud to be a Sitdowner," said Keith Cox, Wiecorek's grandson.
Wiecorek worked 51 years at Fisher Body, but he didn't talk a lot about the strike.
"Actually, I was watching the movie "Roger and Me" because he was in it and you learn a lot of stuff about that," Cox said.
His grandson found out how necessary the strike was.
"Poor working conditions and low pay," Cox said.
Back in 2012, Wiecorek spoke with ABC12 News about the strike and was very modest about his involvement.
"I was single. It didn't bother me at all. I enjoyed it because I was working all the time. When we went out on strike, it was like a vacation," he said.
After the strike, conditions improved in the GM plants.
"He talked about how they had better things to offer for the workers," Cox said.
Wiecorek was also an Army veteran. Cox remembers his grandfather's incredible work ethic.
"He was a good working man. Honest," Cox said.
He paid him the highest compliment a grandson can offer.
"I'm very proud of the man," Cox said.
The funeral for Richard Wiecorek will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Swartz Funeral Home on Hill Road in Genesee County's Mundy Township.