As a part of my research, I contacted several experts in my topic as well as the UAW and the Henry Ford. Here I list the people I interviewed, as well as key information I obtained from them.
"What led to unions was the management and treatment of workers on the assembly line. In the roughest years in the 1930s, many companies treated workers like cattle, with no health and safety requirements, no vacations or insurance, and if you worked at a factory for 30 years, but could not work as fast as a 18 year-old, there was no job security.
"Henry Ford simply followed policies that he thought best for his firm and he believed that a union interfered unnecessarily in the relationship between workers and their employers."
"The actions of US workers were well known and gave workers in other countries the confidence to act. They gained a sense that they had rights and this was a very important contribution of US workers."
"You don't need a lot of skill to work on an assembly line. Many people here come from other countries with no job experience and are working within a week. For someone to be hired, all we want is a person with good work ethics."
"Without the workers there would be no employers. Ford never would have had a dime if it was not for his hard working assembly line workers."
"There is a direct link [between the assembly line and unionization] because work on the assembly line was so hard, and particularly so at Ford."
"The assembly line certainly speeded the rise of the UAW in the auto plants. In large part this was because working on the line was very alienating and not all that well paid before unions came along."
"Ford was ideologically anti-union long before the Depression came around. Asking him to change would have been like asking a leopard to change its spots. Some employers did – the men who ran U.S. Steel, for example – but Ford was too old and set in his ways."
"Ford did not ignore his responsibility, he just wanted to work within his own self-serving sphere."
"The assembly line was perhaps the most significant step forward in manufacturing efficiency in the history of the 20th century. It did lead to a factory employing 90% skilled workers to a factory employing 90% unskilled workers from 1924 until the 1980s."
"In a world in which employers seem to have few responsibilities for their employees, as is the case too often today, I don’t see why workers should have any particular responsibility to their employers unless they are fairly treated and justly compensated for their labor. If the latter were the case, workers should contribute to the enterprise that employs them to the best of their ability."
"Workers should adhere to an employers' rules provided that the rules are not inhumane such as the conditions in sweat shops. It has been proven that many American employers hire people in sweat shops to work for pennies."