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DEARBORN, Mich. -- On May 25, UAW members will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the historic Battle of the Overpass that focused worldwide attention on Henry Ford's massive Rouge Complex and the workers who wanted to form their own union.
Members of UAW Local 600, along with local union presidents from area Ford plants, will attend the event at 11 a.m. Friday at the overpass at Gate 4 on Miller Road in Dearborn. The event will include unfurling banners from the overpass with the theme: "Working from a dark beginning toward a bright future."
The event is at the historic site of a brutal confrontation between company and union organizers on May 26, 1937.
After successfully organizing General Motors and Chrysler, the UAW came to the Ford Rouge Complex to hand out informational leaflets and talk to workers about organizing.
Walter P. Reuther, Richard T. Frankensteen, Richard Merriweather, Ralph Dunham, Rev. Raymond P. Sanford and others went to the overpass that connected the front entrance of the complex to Miller Road. They were met by Henry Ford's hired thugs and servicemen and mercilessly beaten in an unprovoked attack on the overpass.
The confrontation at the Rouge became known as the Battle of the Overpass.
Today, the Ford Rouge Center is composed of six factories, including the new Dearborn Truck factory featuring a vegetation-covered roof and rainwater reclamation system. The complex is Ford's largest factory and employs about 6,000 workers, represented by Local 600, an amalgamated local of about 25,000 active and retired members.
"This is an opportunity to recognize how much has been achieved in these 75 years," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Ford Department. "What drove us apart in 1937 now brings us together to produce some of the world's highest quality and most popular cars and trucks."
"We are honoring a powerful time in the history of this country, this union and UAW Local 600," said UAW Region 1A Director Rory Gamble. "It's a somber reminder but also one that shows us things can change for the better."
"We reflect on this historical anniversary proudly," said UAW Local 600 President Bernie Ricke. "It is a reminder that union success came because members stood together and fought for what was right."
The overpass anniversary follows good news for Ford.
On May 22, the company's rating was raised to investment grade by Moody's Investors Service. The boost signaled a brighter outlook by Moody's for Ford and the return of the company's iconic Blue Oval logo and other assets, which had been held as collateral for loans that helped the automaker restructure.
Also, the Ford F-150, praised for its power and fuel economy, was named 2012 Motor Trend Truck of the Year. It was the fourth time the truck received that award.