30 December 1936

The United Auto Workers union stages its first sitdown strike.

At 8 p.m. on December 30, 1936, in one of the first sit-down strikes in the United States, autoworkers occupy the General Motors Fisher Body Plant Number One in Flint, Michigan. The autoworkers were striking to win recognition of the United Auto Workers as the only bargaining agent for GM’s workers; they also wanted to make the company stop sending work to non-union plants and to establish a fair minimum wage scale, a grievance system and a set of procedures that would help protect assembly-line workers from injury. In all, the strike lasted 44 days.

The Flint sit-down strike was not spontaneous; UAW leaders, inspired by similar strikes across Europe, had been planning it for months. The strike actually began at smaller plants: Fisher Body in Atlanta on November 16, GM in Kansas City on December 16 and a Fisher stamping plant in Cleveland on December 28. The Flint plant was the biggest coup, however: it contained one of just two sets of body dies that GM used to stamp out almost every one of its 1937 cars. By seizing control of the Flint plant, autoworkers could shut down the company almost entirely.

So, on the evening of December 30, the Flint Plant’s night shift simply stopped working. They locked themselves in and sat down. “She’s ours!” one worker shouted.

GM argued that the strikers were trespassing and got a court order demanding their evacuation; still, the union men stayed put. GM turned off the heat in the buildings, but the strikers wrapped themselves in coats and blankets and hunkered down. On January 11, police tried to cut off the strikers’ food supply; in the resulting riot, known as the “Battle of the Running Bulls,” 16 workers and 11 policemen were injured and the UAW took over the adjacent Fisher Two plant. On February 1, the UAW won control of the enormous Chevrolet No. 4 engine factory. GM’s output went from a robust 50,000 cars in December to just 125 in February.

Despite GM’s enormous political clout, Michigan Governor Frank Murphy refused to use force to break the strike. Though the sit-ins were illegal, he believed, he also believed that authorizing the National Guard to break the strike would be an enormous mistake. “If I send those soldiers right in on the men,” he said, “there’d be no telling how many would be killed.” As a result, he declared, “The state authorities will not take sides. They are here only to protect the public peace.”

Meanwhile, President Roosevelt urged GM to recognize the union so that the plants could reopen. In mid-February, the automaker signed an agreement with the UAW. Among other things, the workers were given a 5 percent raise and permission to speak in the lunchroom.

30 December 2006

Madrid–Barajas Airport is bombed.

The 2006 Madrid–Barajas Airport bombing occurred on 30 December 2006 when a van bomb exploded in the Terminal 4 parking area at the Madrid–Barajas Airport in Spain, killing two and injuring 52. On 9 January 2007, the Basque nationalist and separatist organisation ETA claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack, one of the most powerful carried out by ETA, damaged the airport terminal and destroyed the entire parking structure. The bombing ended a nine-month ceasefire declared by the armed organisation and prompted the government to halt plans for negotiations with the organisation. Despite the attack, ETA claimed that the ceasefire was still in place and regretted the death of civilians. The organisation eventually announced the end of the ceasefire in June 2007.

Ordered and planned by then head of commandos Miguel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina alias Txeroki, the attack was carried out by the “commando Elurra”, whose members were arrested in early 2008 and sentenced for the attack in May 2010. Txeroki was arrested in November 2008 and is awaiting trial for the bombing.

30 December 2006

Over 400 die when the Indonesian passenger ferry MV Senopati Nusantara sinks.

The M/s Senopati Nusantara was an Indonesian ferry that sank in a storm on December 30, 2006. The Japanese-made ship was a scheduled passenger liner from the port of Kumai in Borneo to Tanjung Emas port in Semarang, East Java. About 40 km off Mandalika island, the ship sank during a violent storm in the Java Sea. At least 400–500 people are thought to have drowned.

Initial reports claimed as many as 800 were on board, although this was later lowered to around 628, including 57 crew. Design capacity was 1,300 passengers.On December 30, 2006, the ship sunk about 40 km off Mandalika island. According to the manifest, the ship was carrying 628 people including 57 crew, but later press releases from government officials gave an inconsistent number of total passengers.

Initially, stormy weather was suggested to be the main cause of the disaster. Local officials of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, however, did not ban the vessel from sailing, and the official at the Kumai port issued a sailing permit based on the weather report.According to one survivor’s account, the ship rolled over and part of the hull was sticking out the water before it submerged into the sea.