Trade Union Leader and Community Activist
Charles Brooks was born in 1916 in Windsor. He was seventeen years of age when he began working as a spray painter in a factory, and was employed at Chrysler in 1937. When the union was chartered in 1957 he was elected the first president of Local 444, which represented hourly workers at the Windsor Chrysler facility. He subsequently served eleven consecutive terms until his life was tragically ended in 1977 by a disgruntled fired Chrysler employee.
Holding tenaciously to his commitment to improving the working conditions of the workers of Local 444, Charles Brooks struggled relentlessly to achieve these objectives. Through bargaining and negotiations the workers at Local 444, led by their indomitable President Charley Brooks, won significant improvements in wages, protection against inflation (Cost of Living Allowance), improved working conditions, Supplementary Unemployment Benefits, pensions and relief time.
Charlie Brooks was not just a Trade Unionist, but also demonstrated a humanitarian and social duty to improving the lives of others and was very active in community affairs. He founded the first industrial credit union in Canada and served as President of the Cooperative Dwellings Association. He also served as President of the Canadian Council of the UAW and was named Man of the Year by the United Community Services in 1974 for his efforts in the United Way campaign. Charlie Brooks’ twenty one years as President, his devotion to duty in the service of the workers and the community and his perspicacity and visionary leadership is credited with laying a solid foundation for Local 444 and its clear social vision.
In honour of his memory and his efforts towards world peace, the Charles Brooks “Peace Fountain” in Coventry Gardens in Windsor exists as a standing monument to his endeavours and achievements. His memory was also honoured through the establishment of the Charles Brooks Labour Community Service Award, as well as an annual golf tournament which bears his name.