National White Shirt Day

National White Shirt Day is observed on February 11th each year. The purpose of this holiday is to commemorate the Flint sit-down strike and to honor the people who work and have worked in the automobile industry.

The strike forced the government to install better worker protections and eventually led to workers being able to legally organize and join a union. Because anyone who wants to celebrate this holiday only has to put on a white shirt, this holiday can be observed by just about anyone.

The History of National White Shirt Day

The Flint, Michigan sit-down strike has often been called the strike that was heard around the world. In the U.S. in 1935, the average auto worker earned far less than what the Federal Government considered the minimum for a family of four to live on.

Working conditions in many auto plants were grueling and allowed limited breaks to an unacceptable level. In other words, auto workers were underpaid and overworked, and it seemed like things were only going to get worse. And they did in 1936.

In 1936, there were hundreds of deaths in auto plants across Michigan that are believed to have been the result of brutal working conditions combined with a heatwave. This resulted in General Motors workers starting a sit-down strike on November 12, 1936, at Body Plant Number One in Flint, Michigan.

Soon, sit-down strikes spread to other GM plants and eventually to other automobile plants. On February 11, 1937, the strike was resolved, and as a result, better pay and better conditions were given to auto workers.

Observing National White Shirt Day

Anyone wishing to celebrate this holiday can do so by first learning about the history of collective bargaining and the history of the Flint, Michigan sit-down strikes. It’s also a good day for people in other industries to learn about how they worked toward better pay and work conditions. While sharing these stories, don’t forget to use the hashtag #NationalWhiteShirtDay on your social media accounts.

When is it?
This year (2024)
February 11 Sunday
Next year (2025)
February 11 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
February 11 Saturday