Over 1,200 office workers line
up across the street from their offices. They were kept from their
jobs by picketers; few attempted to enter the building.
Courtesy of The Art Gallery of Windsor
Burt described the blockade as a Miller Road because of its similarity
to a previous action by the UAW at the River Rouge plant in Detroit.
Eventually, the cars jammed Sandwich Street and up Drouillard for
blocks around the plants. As one picketer suggested, it was a Model
T that Ford would not like. The famous blockade was
known as the largest traffic jam in Windsor history!
barricade ultimately worked. Police made no move against the strikers
and the Ford plant remained closed. The strike continued. The Windsor
Star called the blockade an insurrection with the mob in control
and demanded that the police be used. The City of Windsor also called
for order to be restored in a heated debate. Eventually, council
gave the union an ultimatum: remove the barricade or the police
would be called in.
the rank and file agreed, if only to allow talks to resume. There
was some grumbling from the men who were afraid that it would show
weakness, but the barricade came down on Wednesday, November Seventh.
day, cars were returned to their rightful owners. More than a hundred
insurance claims were filed, but only half were processed. They
covered theft of tires, radiators, hub and gas caps and damage to
paint and fenders. But most vehicles were returned in good repair,
thanks to union members who kept damage to a minimum.
a result of the barricade, meetings were held between government,
union and company negotiators over the next three weeks. Progress
was slow and, just when a settlement seemed imminent, all hope was
dashed. A settlement was alternately helped and then hampered, by
representatives of the federal and provincial governments who couldnt
agree on a solution. There was a Liberal government in Ottawa and
a Conservative government in Ontario and they just didnt see
union leaders agreed to binding arbitration and held a vote of the
membership to end the strike and go back to work while an agreement
was worked out. There was no fanfare and no real sense of victory.
The strike just ended on Wednesday, December 19th. The workers returned
to their posts in the hope that Justice Ivan C. R. and would negotiate
a settlement to end the bitter dispute. The membership was entirely
at his mercy.
From humble beginnings to industrial
giant: The Walkerville Wagon Works (top) became Ford Motor Company
in 1904. The East Windsor Ford site dominated the riverfront by
fortunately, they were not disappointed.
recognized that there had to be a give and take between the union
and company. He criticized both equally for their attitudes during
the strike and established acceptable methods of behaviour for both
the union and company. His agreement became known as the Rand Formula
and represented a partial victory for the union.
didnt give the union everything it wanted. He refused to allow
a closed shop where every worker had to join the union. He figured
that would restrict the rights of the company to hire whomever it
saw fit. And, it restricted the rights of the worker. But, Rand
did make it compulsory for every worker to pay dues, since every
worker benefited from union activities. He required the company
to collect these dues, and his decision was seen as making a big
step toward union security. The union figured that most people would
join the union anyway, since they were paying into it, and the agreement
set the pace for union negotiations over the next 30 years. Essentially,
it also established acceptable practices on the picket line.
its day, the Rand Formula helped organized labour achieve the secure
economic legal status for which it fought so fiercely since the
beginning of the century. And, in that respect, militant unionism
triumphed. It provided recognition by Ford that the union was there
to stay. It allowed other companies to fight for similar consideration.
Rand Formulas impact is still being felt. It was the outcome
of the most important postwar strike in Canada, the crowning glory
of a tumultuous time for Ford workers in Windsor.
Note: 99-Days: The Ford Strike In Windsor, 1945
is available for $20.00 from the author, Herb Colling.
Write P.O. Box 1377, Belle River, Ontario, N0R 1A0
Special thanks to the Ford City Discovery Centre for providing