The Walkerville-Chrysler Connection
1925 - The Maxwell-Chrysler Company became the Chrysler Corporation
of Canada. Production was booming: 181 workers were building 18
cars a day!
company's roots extend back to 1916, when the Maxwell Motor Company
of Canada built a new passenger car plant on Tecumseh Road East.
Maxwell was challenged by the Chalmers Motor Company of Canada which
also began car production that year.
two companies merged in the early 1920s under the name of
Maxwell-Chalmers Corporation of Canada and moved car production
to Tecumseh. By the time they merged in 1925, Windsor was Canada's
largest and most important auto manufacturing centre.
the next two years, it became quickly apparent that demand for Chrysler
products exceeded plant capacity. In 1927, Chrysler moved back into
the area and leased land occupied by the former Fisher Body Company
of Canada Ltd. on Edna Street. The new plant in Walkerville was
used for the assembly, painting and trimming of passenger car bodies.
end of the 1920s also saw more expansion for Chrysler. In 1928,
the company bought 70 acres of farm land in Walkerville for the
passenger car assembly plant that went up that year.
wasn't long after this that union involvement in the automotive
industry took centre stage in the United States. Taking their cue
from their counterparts south of the border, auto workers in Canada
waged their own bitter disputes with Big Three management. From
1938 to 1942, a large number of Chrysler workers waged a bitter
battle for union recognition amidst an atmosphere of police arrests
1942, Chrysler workers in Windsor were organized and UAW Local 195
was formed. The new Local included 3,600 workers and secured a wage
of 90 cents an hour in their first contract. Also established
in that contract agreement was the grievance procedure, giving employees
an avenue to settle any issues with management.
the agreement, workers had no recourse when they were subjected
to hardships on the job, health hazards, discrimination or abusive
next 20 years would bring even more growth for the Local. In support
of their Ford counterparts, union members went on strike for 30
days amidst threats of police recriminations, and the provincial
government's threat to deploy the military in the Windsor strike.
Windsor Mayor Arthur (Art) Reaume, who vehemently opposed and prevented
outside interference, averted bloodshed.
won by the Local 195 over these years included recognition of seniority,
vacation pay and medical coverage for its members.
local, re-organized into UAW Local 444 under Charlie Brooks, was
the driving force in pioneering pre-paid drug plans through Green
Shield and coverage through S.& A. Windsor Medical and Ontario
the ever-looming threat of violence over the years of sit-down work
stoppages, it wasn't until 1977 that tragedy struck. Brooks was
shot to death in his office by a disgruntled fired Chrysler employee.
The Peace Fountain, located in the Detroit River off Coventry Gardens,
is a monument to him and his commit-tment to World Peace. The Charles
Brooks Labor Community Award recognizing his dedication to the community
is also in place.
the war effort to strikes, Chrysler has seen Windsor through the
booms and busts of our city. Today, Local 444 represents workers
from sectors other than those rooted in the automotive industry.
Casino and fishery workers are now part of their union base. With
its offices situated in the hub of Ottawa Street near where Chrysler
began, Local 444 continues to be a strong and proud presence in