Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on the Ford Rouge Plant turning 100

This week, Ford will honor the century that has passed since production began at the Ford Rouge Plant, the nation’s longest continuously operating automobile factory that captures the industrial vision of Henry Ford. Both organized labor and manufacturing owe historical accomplishments and changes to the Ford Rouge Plant, said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University. “Just that role manufacturing played in World War II, the arsenal of democracy argument,” he said. “It’s noteworthy for labor relations and the deep tensions between a company and its union. The violence at the Rouge really illuminated the struggle that took place to secure labor rights.” And now, as historians witness the automation of the industry and increased efficiencies and a changing manufacturing landscape, the site is a microcosm of what’s to come. “It takes far fewer people today to produce as much, if not more,” Masters said. “Automotive (employment) is a shell of its former self but it’s still able to produce at a very high level with technology. The UAW used to have 1.4 million members and now it has about 400,000.”

Full story in the Detroit Free Press.