United Auto Workers Local 5 began in 1933 as an American Federation of Labor local at Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana, established in opposition to depression conditions. By the time it became affiliated with the UAW in 1935 it was the largest auto local in the early struggle to establish auto unions and one of the earliest to organize. They joined with other industrial unions to form the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1937 and remained one of the leading locals in UAW history through the 1950s. Local 5 records reflect their operation and programs through the demise of Studebaker in 1965.

From the depth of the Great Depression and the new administration in Washington D.C., there was new hope that working conditions at the Studebaker Corporation facilities in South Bend, Indiana, could be made better. So with guarded conversations on the street corners, around the plant a wishful thought was started..
By July, 1933, members took their obligations as members of the newly chartered A.F.L. Local Union 18310 was the leader in establishing the steward system, the standing committees, and education itself in union administration. The year 1934 also brought real rejoicing with a plant wide pay increase of $.05 per hour up from $.25 to $.30 rate.

By the beginning of 1935, Local 18310 had become so well known that national attention was focused on it as the outstanding industrial Union of the country. Working with auto delegates, the Locals finally convinced the AFL Executive Board that they should allow the formation of the International Union of Auto Workers.

Their convention was held in Detroit, August 1935, to draft the constitution of the Auto Workers International, and the Locals were renumbered with Local 18310 becoming Local #5.

1935, 1936 and 1937 saw UAW Local 5 involved in the organizing of many locals in the South Bend area and throughout the State of Indiana. April, 1936, the Auto Workers met for the first time under the International Union, United Auto, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, the UAW banner. The convention was held at the Indiana club on West Jefferson, South Bend, Indiana. 1936 also saw the auto workers in South Bend stage the first sit-down strike in America at the Bendix Corporation on November 17th. By May of 1937, just three years and ten months after the first seventeen members took obligations, the local had a contract, a Union-negotiated wage structure and a 100% membership. The first local to achieve this milestone.

At the 1937 Milwaukee Convention, Russell Merrill of Local 5 became the first Regional Director in the area of Indiana and Southern Illinois called Region 3. The fall of 1937 also saw the birth of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.). With the organization of the C.I.O., the most amazing success story took place in the organizing and unionizing of the industrial plants.

In 1939 was the negotiating of a group insurance plan, one of the first in the industry.

In 1941, Local 5 members joined with the Studebaker Corporation in the war efforts.

The union also saw the need for the unions to get involved in lobbying at the State and Local level with John Bartee of Local 5 becoming one of the unions first lobbyists.

The thirties and forties saw many Local 5 members being appointed to the International staff and the election of Raymond H. Berndt to the Directorship of Region 3 in 1947.

In 1949 and 1950, the pension, much higher contributions to the group insurance programs and the cost of living allowance were negotiated.

With the closing of the Studebaker plants by mid 1964, the company was divided with the sale of the foundry to Cummins Engines, the stamping plant to Allied Products (later to become South Bend Stamping) and the Chippewa plant to Kaiser Jeep. At this time, it was decided to amalgamate and all come under one Local with the International permitting retention of the Local 5 number. With the formation of the Amalgamated additional units were brought into the Local from time to time.

In 1971, the Kaiser Jeep name was changed to AM General. Today, along with AM General, the local has members working at L.E. Johnson, Patrick Metals, Seres, DHL, Conn-Selmer, LyondellBasell and Plymouth Foundry.

Efforts are continually going on to further organize area shops in order that they might become a part of the Local and enjoy the benefits of the U.A.W.