automotive industry, automotive history, women, Windsor (Ontario)
From 'Chrysler Girls' to 'Dodge Boys': The Emergence of Women in Windsor's Automotive Industry, 1964-1976 is a study of female auto workers' lack of equality in seniority at the Windsor Spring plant, a division of Chrysler Canada. While a small number of women worked in Chrysler's, Windsor, Ontario, parts plants during the 1930s and 1940s, few women worked in passenger car and truck assembly plants because collective agreements between the UAW and the auto manufacturer upheld sex-based job classifications and seniority lists which ultimately limited women's participation in the plants. Based on the idea that women were financial dependents and that men were breadwinners, male UAW leaders adopted a wage strategy that not only justified women's lower pay rates but also ensured that female workers would receive fewer job and seniority rights than their male co-workers. Though historians have produced many exceptional studies on women auto workers and their roles in the UAW, their research over the past fifteen years has neglected the issue of women's seniority. This study examines how and why women were discouraged from using their seniority rights by focusing on the Windsor Spring plant before and after the amended Ontario Human Rights Code in 1970 abolished separate seniority lists for men and women. It concludes that both the company and union officials seem to have had a stake in continuing the system even when feminists challenged it through legal reform.
University of Windsor