Ken Lewenza, Sr.
Automobile worker, labour leader.
Ken Lewenza was born in Windsor in 1954. Although a high-school dropout, he rose to become National President of the Canada Auto Workers Union.
Lewenza joined the work force at the young age of 16, working as a gas station attendant before he was hired by Chrysler Canada’s Windsor Automobile Assembly Plant in 1972. His activist career began in 1978 when he started as a Union Steward; he was later elected committee man in 1984, followed by Plant Chairman in 1987. In 1990 he moved up to a Vice-Presidential position, and four years later became President of CAW Local 444.
Lewenza was well-versed and effective in the tension of negotiations and was elected twice as CAW National President (2008). He stepped down from his presidential position after a historical merger between the CAW and the Communications, Energy and Power Workers Union: “Unifor” in 2013.
Ken Lewenza Sr. was an active delegate on the Windsor and District Labour Council and a community leader in Windsor-Essex. Lewenza has been involved with many community organizations including the Motor City Credit Union, Guardian Board of Windsor, the labour-sponsored Community Development Croup, Hotel Dieu Hospital Board of Windsor, the AIDS Committee of Windsor, and United Way of Windsor-Essex County.
In 2002, as a tribute to his hard work and dedication, Ken was awarded the Charles E. Brooks Labour Community Award, a joint initiative of the United Way and the Windsor and District Labour Council.
In 2013, Ken Lawenza Sr. received an Honorary Law Degree from the University of Windsor.