Ford Strike of 1945
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The 99-day Ford strike of 1945 took place in Windsor, Ontario, Canada from September 12, 1945, to December 19, 1945. Under UAW Local 200 President Roy England, 11,000 workers walked off their jobs after 24 of their demands went unmet by the Ford Motor Company. Negotiations for a new contract had spanned 18 months and officially ended with the exodus of Ford workers at ten o'clock on the morning of September 12. The Strike included picketing and eventually led to a two-day blockade of vehicles surrounding the Ford plant on November 5. The strike ended on December 19 as both sides agreed to return to previous working conditions while arbitration regarding implementing a fully unionized shop and medical coverage continued under Justice Ivan C. Rand. His report was released on January 29, 1946. The Rand Formula, as it became known, gave the UAW formal recognition as the sole negotiators representing all employees of Ford Motor Company.
Context and outcomes
During the great Ford Strike of 1945, a huge barricade of workers’ cars and trucks assembled on 4 November 1945 along Drouillard and Riverside. Some 2000 vehicles reinforced the United Autoworkers picket line and prevented a violent assault by a joint force of OPP and RCMP ordered in by Tory Premier George Drew and the provincial government. In addition the federal government was readying armoured tank units in Camp Borden to break up the barricade. On 5 November Windsor City Council issued an ultimatum “calling for the Ford strikers to remove the motor-car barricade outside the Ford plant or troops may be called in to remove the vehicles”. Mayor Art Reaume consistently bucked decisions involving the use of police or force against the picket lines.
United Auto Workers Local 200 President Roy England declared such an action would be equivalent to strikebreaking. Chrysler Local 195 walked out in sympathy, and thousands of workers flocked to the picket lines in support. Cross-Canada solidarity for the striking autoworkers led to a settlement 10 December 1945. Roy England summed up: “The provision that everyone covered by the agreement must pay dues for the benefits he receives is in effect a modified union shop. . . . It is true that under the present agreement everyone does not have to belong to the union, as in a union shop, but it is a condition of employment that everyone must pay his dues”.
The historic Ford strike of 1945 had won the unprecedented Rand Formula, named after Justice Ivan C. Rand, himself the son of a railwayman. The watershed victory for the United Autoworkers was a precedent that put into contract terms the concept of union security. In essence “those workers that share in the benefits established by the union should also shoulder part of the burden, the maintenance of the union”. The Rand Formula promoted union stability against company efforts to return to the open shop, and the check-off became a pattern for contracts across Canada in the postwar period.
- This is the inscription on an Historic plaque commemorating the events that took place. Hung at 2879 Riverside Dr. at the corner of Drouillard Rd. and Riverside.
- Baruth-Walsh, Mary E. and Mark Walsh. Strike 99 Days on the Line. Canada: Penumbra Press, 1995. ISBN 0-921254-68-7 (hardcover), ISBN 0-921254-69-5
- Colling, Herb. The Ford Strike in Windsor: 99 Days. Toronto: NC Press, 1995. ISBN 1-55021-088-2
- Colling, Herb. “Ford Strike of ‘45” in Best of Times Magazine, ed., Elaine Weeks. Windsor: Walkerville Publishing Co., 2006.
- Abella, Irving M. On Strike: Six Key Labour Strikes in Canada, 1919-49. Toronto: James Lorimer, 1975. ISBN 0-88862-058-6
- Mays, James. Ford and Canada: One Hundred Years Together. Montreal: Syam Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-9733812-0-5