Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Elizabeth Faue


In 1947, the Michigan Legislature passed into law the Hutchinson Act banning strikes of state and local workers. The law provided for the termination of striking public sector workers but did not require state and local agencies to bargain with public employees or their representatives. It even allowed for fines and prison sentences for non public sector workers who influenced public sector workers to strike. The law forced public sector unions into an untenable state of "collective begging." Indeed, it was often referred to as punitive and draconian. 18 years later, the Michigan Legislature passed and the governor signed into law the Public Employees Relations Act. This 1965 law did not allow for public sector strikes in Michigan, but neither did it mandate harsh penalties to those violating the striking ban. Most importantly, the law required state and local agencies to engage in collective bargaining with their employees or their representatives when called upon to do so. The public sector welcomed the new law, often referring to it as the `Little Wagner Act,' in recognition of the 1935 Wagner Act granting all private sector workers rights to unionization and collective bargaining. The purpose of this dissertation is to illustrate how the growth and concentration of Detroit-area public sector workers coupled with rights consciousness of the postwar period, combined to empower public sector workers and the Michigan legislature to successfully fight for thePublic Employees Relations Act and pursue collective bargaining thereafter.