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UAW Local 584 Charter 1944

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Local 584 received their first Charter on May 31, 1944.

 

UAW Retirees Chapter

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UAW Local 584 Retirees Chapter

 

 

CAW Local 584 Charter 1986

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CAW Local 584 Charter 1986


The first meeting under the original Charter was held at the Bay Bloor Hotel on August 10, 1944 and was attended by 56 members. The election of officers took place and the results were as follows:


President: Fred Davis

Vice President: George Powell

Treasurer: James Cowan

Secretary: Duff Belanger

Stewards: Robert Sellers, William Hoey and Harold Jewell.

Sgt at Arms: William Campbell

Trustees: Charles Meech and William Esch.

 

The company refused to meet with the executive to negotiate a collective agreement until December of 1944 at which time the Union unanimously rejected the Company’s proposed agreement. Later on in 1945, George Burt reported “We have been negotiating a contract for nearly a year and during the last week the Ford Motor Company decided to declare war on the Union.”

 

Bill Ridley On Strike in 1945 Windsor

 

Contract negotiations had been underway for 18 months and no satisfactory agreement could be reached with the Union bashing Ford Motor Company. So the infamous 99-Day Ford Strike in Windsor began on September 12, 1945. WWII had ended and all the workers who had been building trucks, guns and ammunition in Windsor were facing insecurity.


1945_lineup

 

When Local 200 manned the picket lines, letters of support were sent from local 584 and at the October General meeting a committee was formed to collect funds for the Windsor strikers and their families. At the same meeting a motion was moved by Harold Jewel and passed to send $100.00. This was a big contribution from our local when you consider the general fund at that time showed a balance of $163.73.


Ford Strike 1945


Local 584 sent out telegrams to the provincial governments protesting the action of the government in sending in the RCMP and OPP into the Windsor plants and asking for their withdrawal. The access of these forces was blocked when on November 5th the Union formed a blockade of vehicles around the Ford plant, as the day progressed thousands of pickets joined the protest. The barricade worked as talks finally resumed.    At the January General meeting it was reported that an additional $1001.00 had been collected for the striking Ford workers. The Strike ended on December 19th  with the Rand formula being implemented along with many other improved benefits.

 

Ford_car_blockade_1945

  WINDSOR FORD BLOCKADE 1945
Ford_car_blockade_1945

Ford strike, 1945:
Fight for the right to bargain

By Jim Stanford

In the summer of 1945, just as the Second World War was ending, Ford announced 1,500 layoffs at Windsor. This helped trigger a strike that would last 99 days and forever change labour relations in Canada.

Notwithstanding the horrific things happening on the battlefields, the war had been a pretty good time for the Canadian working class. The economic and social disaster of the Great Depression had been cured by massive, debt-financed government spending. Unemployment went from double-digits to almost zero within two years. New pools of labour, including more than a million women, were recruited to the economic war effort. With all the new work, workers finally gained some power to demand a fairer shake, and incomes rose rapidly.

Not surprisingly, then, the end of the war spurred mixed emotions among the newly confident Canadian unionists. With wartime production shutting down, and the looming return of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, would workers and their unions hold on to the gains they’d made during the war? Or would Canada return to the desperation and exploitation that had marked the ’30s?

During the war, union membership had doubled, reaching 25 percent of the non-agricultural workforce by war’s end. Hundreds of strikes occurred during 1942 and 1943, perhaps the most concentrated period of union militance in Canadian history. The tension began to ease, eventually, but only after the unions had won significant new powers. These were enshrined in the so-called Canadian Wagner Act, which recognized bargaining rights for the first time.

Ford’s massive complex in Windsor was Canada’s largest workplace, employing some 14,000 auto workers. They had joined the Canadian arm of the United Auto Workers (later to become the Canadian Auto Workers in Canada) during the war, prevailing over bitter employer opposition. The workers won an initial moderate contract from Ford, but this was followed by many small work stoppages and Ford’s continuing refusal to truly accept the union. In those days, union dues were collected voluntarily from individual members. Union security—the ability of the union to exist and operate on a sustainable, consistent basis—was a necessary priority for the union.

The 1,500 layoffs only heightened workers’ peacetime insecurity. After failing to win a new contract, members of UAW Local 200 struck on September 12, 1945. The key demands were related to union security: a closed union shop and automatic dues check-off. There were economic demands, too, including a paid two-week annual vacation.

The local union was new and inexperienced, but solidarity quickly built, as members were determined not to return to a workplace of the ’30s. Solidarity was further strengthened by Ford’s confrontational tactics. The union worked hard to cultivate support for the strike in the broader Windsor community. This was before the days of strike pay, so the active support of spouses, families and neighbours was essential. In contrast, higher-ups in the union’s Detroit headquarters, the Canadian Congress of Labour (precursor to today’s CLC) and the CCF were alarmed by the strike’s militance, and offered at best halfhearted support.

In November, with winter coming on, Ford asked police to break picket lines to restart the strikebound plant’s heating system. The UAW then called on 8,000 members from Local 195, employed at other auto companies in Windsor, to join the 14,000 Ford workers. They did so, and stayed out—without strike pay—for another month. Facing a police attack, the strikers formed an immense blockade by parking their own cars in streets all around the plant. The blockade lasted three days and prevented what would have undoubtedly been a violent confrontation.

Following the blockade, and with the personal intervention of federal cabinet minister Paul Martin Sr., bargaining began again. A tentative settlement, based on the union’s pre-strike offer of binding arbitration on all union security matters, was defeated by the local’s now-militant members. Martin then assured the union, no doubt to Ford’s horror, that he would appoint a “sympathetic” arbitrator. That was sufficient to get the deal passed.

On December 9, after 99 days on the picket line, workers voted to return to work. Six weeks later, Ivan Rand, a Supreme Court judge, brought down his arbitration award. He rejected a closed shop, but approved automatic dues check-off—on the grounds that everyone in a workplace benefits from the union, so all should contribute to it. In return, he prohibited all strikes during the term of a collective agreement. This “Rand formula” became the foundation for the post-war compromise between union power and productivity that came to be known, fittingly, as “Fordism.” Over the next three decades, Canadian unions used this victory to expand their power and win economic gains for working people that are unprecedented in the history of capitalism.

Since the early 1980s, however, the apparatus of Fordism has been systematically under attack from a harder-nosed variety of capitalism that we now know as neo-liberalism. Canada’s economic future has been thrown to the winds of free trade and market forces. Ford’s facilities in Windsor, along with the rest of Canada’s once-vaunted auto industry, are fighting for a future. Unions have lost members; in many cases, more importantly, they have lost their fighting spirit.

The 1945 Ford strike was pivotal in laying the legal and political basis for Canada’s post-war Golden Age—which, unfortunately, feels like ancient history today. But the morals of this story are lasting. First, working people won’t win anything without fighting for it. Despite being on the cusp of enormous prosperity, it took incredible bravery and militance in 1945 for workers to win a good share of the pie they produced. Second, new times always demand new modes of struggle, and those new modes will always be controversial—not least within our own movements. But without constantly stirring the pot, our campaigns for change will be left behind. Maybe a car blockade wouldn’t work today (then again, maybe it would), but we clearly need to seek equally innovative ways to push the envelope of social change. Finally, the power of people to build a better world ultimately grows from the kind of grassroots militance and communitybased solidarity that won the great strike of 1945.

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In September of 1948 the membership of Local 584 expressed approval for the new agreement negotiated in Windsor and voted for two new statutory holidays, Good Friday and Thanksgiving. The Management/Union relations over the next few years with Ford were deteriorating, prompting the newly elected leadership of Local 584 to propose that we enter into a master agreement with Local 200 Windsor, a motion that was moved at the February 1951 meeting.

 

Queensway Ford Depot

The Ford division was first located in Toronto (The Danforth) and later moved to Etobicoke (The Queensway), then in the late fifties the company moved to Weston (Sheppard Ave). An announcement was made in June of 1963 to move to its new home in Bramalea allowing employees to transfer with their jobs. The Bramalea National Parts Depot went into operation on August 1, 1964 with 60 employees moving from the Sheppard Ave location and 49 from Windsor.