CAW Local 1973

Local 1973 is a union belonging to the labour movement of the Canadian Auto Workers. "Canada's union movement has been fragmented along numerous dimensions, though Local 1973 did not become one of those dimensions until it became independent from Local 195 which both the Windsor General Motors Trim, (now Lear) and Transmission Plants belonged to. Both Plants wanted their own identity in the labour movement and as a result of the efforts of Bob Longeuay, Jim Morand, Alix Sinkevitch and George Ashton, this goal was realized January 1, 1973 when Local 1973 was chartered. "It was in 1969 that special membership meetings were held by the GM workers to debate whether to withdraw from Local 195 and form a new local. Ninety-one percent of those workers supported the split. A petition that members signed to separate was sent to the UAW, the United Auto Workers (the CAW hadn’t existed yet); the wheels were then set in motion to form the Local. Longeuay, Morand, Sinkevitch and Ashton, "…signed the original petition that went to the International UAW Executive Board, requesting a separate Windsor GM local… Another petition was held in 1972 after some didn’t like the idea of separation, though the petition held strong with 67.8% of GM workers voting in favour of the split.<> The first president of the UAW's newest local was Alix Sinkevitch after he ran for the position and was elected; he served as president from 1973-1981. Through the years there have been several executive board members, each contributing their own experience to the local's history. Local 1973 then needed a place to gather for their meetings and events, thus they purchased a building on Walker Road to act as their Union Hall, which remains the current location.

A major change happened when the UAW broke with its parent organization and "…members overwhelmingly supported the split, forming the United Auto Workers Union of Canada. "In the summer of 1986 that name would officially be changes to the Canadian Auto Workers Union. When the split occurred and the CAW was formed, the Windsor Local made the change with them, becoming CAW Local 1973. The Local has a history of coming together to protest in solidarity. A memorable time in Windsor labour history occurred in 1996 with the news that the Windsor GM Transmission Plant and the Oshawa Fabrication Plant were up for sale. A strike was threatened, one which General Motors had hoped to avoid. Though a protest was held in Oshawa at the GM headquarters and workers went on strike April 22, 1996, lasting until October 23, 1996 when a tentative agreement was reached. Local 1973 have been known to come out to show their support to other strikers; this can be seen for example on January 14, 1998 when some members joined VIA Rail picketers demonstrating against cutbacks. Also in 1998, Local 1973 celebrated their 25th Anniversary, commemorating their independence from Local 195. Local 1973 have been active in raising funds for the United Way, organizing campaigns, and acting as main contributors.

When a recession occurred in 1981 many workers lost their jobs; Local 1973's Education Committee set out to help its Windsor workers. "In 1991, when major layoffs hit the Windsor GM workers, the CAW Local 1973 Education Committee decided to pursue community help for our members. The Education Committee met with the United Way to help laid off workers, establishing a Help Fair. It had many supporters contributing to its success, with the goal of giving out information and to "…keep the spirits up of laid off workers. The program was so successful that it spread throughout the province of Ontario. With the program installed, "…laid off workers received help and assurance when they needed it. Many union activities are put on and participated in by Local 1973, such as the annual Labour Day Parades and the Picnics in which workers and their families come together for a day of fun. Local 1973 has been an active member in union history and in the CAW, continuing to grow and work for its members. Update: CAW Local 1973 has become a part of history. With General Motors' decision to close the Transmission plant in 2010 and with the recent closure of the Lear plant, CAW Local 1973 will be over. Local 1973's history is a rich one that will be remembered as a strong local that has done it's job in looking out for worker's rights and employment. This local has become an integral part of the CAW's history.


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