The Canadian section of our Union emerged in the late 1930s when we joined the Americans. We became part of an International Union which over the next number of years grew to a membership in excess of one million. We were known at that time as United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). Our relationship with the Americans would terminate some 45 years later when we formed our own Canadian Union. “We do, however, maintain a mutual respect for another as trade unionists.” – Terry Gorman, Past President.

Since the emergence of our Local, the face of our union has changed quite rapidly. In addition to gaining strength, we have grown rapidly, adding several units and building solidarity among our members. As our late past president, Terry Gorman, once said, “It took many years to reach where we are today. As one who spent many years in a leadership role, and continues to actively participate in union activity, despite my retirement, I would urge our younger membership to become more involved. You will then better appreciate the accomplishments that were achieved by your predecessors.”

In 1949, our members worked for Nash Motors – a division of the Nash Kelvinator Corporation. The plant was located on Danforth Avenue in Toronto and produced the "Nash Rambler". At that time, our members belonged to UAW Local 1115. Nash Kelvinator was later bought by the American Motors Corporation (AMC). The first contract between the UAW and AMC occurred in 1956. The line speed was 22 cars per day.

AMC built a plant in Brampton at the corner of Steeles Avenue East and Kennedy Road and in 1961 began building the Rambler. The line speed was 32 cars per shift. Local 1285 received a separate UAW charter on May 12, 1961. Charlie Carr was elected as our first President.

Several other workplaces have joined Local 1285 since 1961. Terry Gorman was the longest serving President of any CAW Local—he was elected in 1975 and served 6 terms. Buzz Hargrove was our National Representative in 1975.

In 1977, AMC hired its first union sister, Cecilia Palmer. Today, The Brampton Assembly Plant has one of the highest, if not the highest, percentages of female workers of all major automotive assembly plants in North America.

In 1985, the CAW separated from the UAW. We received our CAW Charter that year. What is now known as the Brampton Assembly Plant was built in 1986 by AMC Renault. Chrysler bought out AMC and acquired both plants in August 1987. The plant built the "Premier", and the "Monaco". The line speed was about 250 cars per shift, but there was only one shift, and not a lot of work. Layoffs were rampant. The Kennedy Road Plant worked steady producing jeeps.

The LH vehicles, "Intrepid", "Eagle Vision", and "Concorde" were introduced at the "Bramalea" plant.
The Kennedy Road plant was closed on April 4, 1992.

President, Terry Gorman retired in 1993 and Vince Bailey was elected as President.

In 2013, The Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada merged to form a new Union called Unifor, Canada's newest — and largest — private sector union to turn the tide for Canada's labour movement.

Past Presidents

Charlie Carr         (1961 to ?)

Gord Aldham     (? to June 1963)

Jim Peters           (June 1963 to October 1973)

Floyd Gill              (October 1973 to May 1975)

Terry Gorman    (June 1975 to September 1993)

Vince Bailey        (September 1993 to May 2008)

Leon Rideout     (May 2008 to May 2017)