CBC Digital Archives

The 1982 UAW strike at Chrysler

Since 1925, the Chrysler Corporation has been a titan in the world auto industry; one of the three largest manufacturers in North America and producer of iconic machines like the Jeep, the Barracuda, the K-car and the minivan. Like any company in any industry, Chrysler has seen its share of good times and bad. But as a multi-billion dollar company with tens of thousands of employees, those ups and downs have major ramifications for the North American economy. On May 1, 2009 the auto giant filed for bankruptcy protection. The CBC Digital Archives offers a brief look back at some of the troubles and triumphs of the automotive juggernaut.

In 1982, Canadian members of the United Auto Workers resort to a radical change of tactics. For the first time, the union breaks rank from its American organizers and go on strike in Canada. The Americans settled quickly, but Bob White wants more from Chrysler Canada. And after five weeks of intense negotiations, the two sides reach an agreement. In this report from CBC News, we learn that workers at the Windsor, Ont. plant are very happy with the settlement.
• The 1982 strike affected 9,600 United Auto Workers members at Chrysler Canada. Ninety per cent of the union membership voted in favour of a new contract that included an hourly pay raise. 
  • Chrysler Canada workers went on strike Nov. 5, 1982. Led by Bob White, the union demanded hourly increases comparable to those at Ford and GM. The Canadian union broke rank from the American union who had agreed to a short term, non-monetary settlement. In the end, Chrysler Canada workers were still earning $2 an hour less than workers at Ford and GM.

• The Toronto Star reported that Bob White took a huge risk by calling for a strike against Chrysler. White replied, "We took on a big multinational corporation that said the cupboard was bare. It wasn't".

• Three years after the strike, the Canadian Auto Workers was founded. It was an independent trade union that broke off from the American parent organization. The CAW's first president was Bob White. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 12, 1982
Anchor: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Kelly Crichton
Duration: 1:51

Last updated: February 9, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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