(1922 – 2003)
United Auto Workers, Canadian Labour Congress
Born in Portsmouth, England, Dennis McDermott immigrated to Canada in 1948 and settled in Toronto. He soon took a job as an assembler and welder. By 1954, he had become a full-time organizer for the United Auto Workers in Canada (UAW). During his time with the Canadian UAW, McDermott led the union to support the California grape boycott in the 1960s and 1970s.
He was elected Canadian Director of the UAW in 1968, becoming an International Vice-President with the union by 1970. While leader of the Canadian UAW, McDermott also became a Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress. When the opportunity arose in 1978 to become president of the CLC, he took it, leaving the UAW. Under McDermott, the CLC organized a 100,000 person protest against the federal Liberal government’s economic policies in 1981.
Following his term as CLC president, McDermott was appointed Canada’s ambassador to Ireland in 1986 and served in that position until 1989. He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 1988 and received the Ontario Federation of Labour Human Rights Award in 1994.