WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
It began in Windsor six decades ago. Early in 1936, the United Auto Workers Union in Canada began its’ campaign to organize auto workers. At that time it had little or no funds available. It had 150 workers at Kelsey Wheel in Windsor (now Kelsey-Hayes). That’s where it got first official recognition. That first Charter contained the names of the pioneers of the union in Canada. There was activity elsewhere in Canada, notably Oshawa, but it was here that the first Charter was signed on December 11, 1936.
Those first fifteen were members of Local 195. It required courage to sign a union card in those early days. It often meant the loss of a job; it frequently meant incurring the displeasure on one’s neighbours and friends; it always meant hardship in the form of financial sacrifice. The Union’s major resources were human . There was little or no money to do it with. Outstripping in importance all other issues was that of recognition as a bargaining agent for employees.
The union is particularly proud of its Retiree Benefits. It is not uncommon to find a retired union member receiving $950 to $2500 a month – plus benefits. The union members to-day ask ‘why not’.
Pensions are only one of the gains made over the last years.
Much progress and many changes have occurred in these sixty seven years. Today, Local 195, as an Amalgamated Local Union has over 70 units with approximately 7,000 members.