Unifor National Ruled in Violation of Unifor Constitution Over CLC Exit

After spending seven months on a public misinformation campaign including costly province wide townhall meetings against the backdrop of anti-union raiding, the Unifor National Executive Board has been found in violation of our constitution by the Public Review Board (PRB). The Public Review Board is an arms-length body that hears appeals from Unifor members against decisions of the NEB. The first PRB was established by Walter Reuther for the UAW, when unions were under attack from claims they were not democratic.

From the outset the NEB denied the constitutional violations, but also took the position that the PRB did not have jurisdiction over the appeal or the ability to reverse their undemocratic decision, asking for our appeal to be dismissed outright. Not only did they seek to derail pubic inquiry into their actions, but several other appeals from locals across our union were denied without satisfactory explanation, seemingly in an attempt to make the calls for democracy appear isolated rather than widespread. While the PRB stopped short of overturning the decision to leave the CLC, they made it extremely clear that the National did in fact violate our constitution and expressed that hopefully this decision will lead to further discussions about the need for true union democracy within Unifor. In addition, the PRB dismissed the arguments of the NEB as being “unreasonable”.

“In our view, the language of Article 19(2) makes plain that the decision to disaffiliate from the CLC does not lie with the NEB alone. The words “subject to” indicate a qualification of
on the NEB’s authority and reading the provision in a way that authorizes the NEB to make and implement such a decision unilaterally effectively reads these words out of the article. We appreciate and have considered the argument, made by Unifor, that other articles of the Constitution make it explicit when decisions must be approved by other means prior to being implemented. Certainly, compared with the language contained in article 15(A)(4), article 19(2) is less explicit and arguably gives rise to some ambiguity. However, we cannot accept that the words “subject to” have no real meaning or that they simply confer a power to decide whether a decision made and implemented many months ago will remain in effect, or be reversed. In our view, such an interpretation is unreasonable.”

When the CLC disaffiliation was first announced it shook the Canadian labour movement to its very core, sowing seeds of mistrust and division at a crucial time for our movement. With a degree of arrogance rivaled only by the corporations we are supposed to be fighting against, they made this unconstitutional decision with zero input from the people most affected by this change, the rank and file members of Unifor itself.

On the eve of Unifor Canadian Council, our delegates have the chance to reverse this horrendous decision, or conversely to support it. After months of misinformation from our leadership surrounding this issue, it is likely that the latter will occur, but the fact remains that the appropriate decision making body will finally and rightfully get to decide the direction of our union, a direction presupposed by an executive board who believe themselves to be above reproach and powerful enough to flatly violate the constitution they swore an oath to uphold. This attitude is truly an enormous shame and does a great disservice to workers across the nation. Apparently Democracy only Matters when we are raiding other unions and need a catchy phrase to justify our grossly divisive actions during a public relations nightmare.

What can we expect next from a National Executive Board that is willing to use our own dues to lie to us about the scope and use of the power we allow them to have? Only time will tell, but a few things are certain: we need leaders who respect and uphold our constitution, who remember where they came from and who they represent. We need honest and accountable leadership who embrace constructive criticism rather than leaders with fragile egos who stifle dissent to create the illusion of solidarity where obedience sadly takes precedence. More importantly, we need rank and file members to raise their voices in dissent when the principles of our union are violated. This rank and file driven victory for our members stands as proof that through dedicated grassroots effort we can ensure that those in power are held accountable, whether it be in the workplace or in our own house where these constitutional violations should never occur in the first place.

This is the entirety of the PRB Decision (applicant is erroneously stated as our Local 222 Recording Secretary who filed the request on behalf of Local 222). We at Solinet hope that each of you will take the time to read these documents and catch a small glimpse of why grassroots union activism is needed now more than ever. Only when the workers who make up our union have a meaningful and respected voice in our national decision making will our union achieve its enormous potential. Until then we all must demand democracy when it is denied, and if our demands are silenced by those in power we must take democracy without apology.

 

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UAW-Fiat Chrysler Corruption: “Greasing the Skids for Concessions”

The US federal corruption case against UAW officials and Fiat Chrysler executives continues to widen, and now the organizations themselves, the UAW and Fiat Chrysler, have been labeled co-conspirators. This backs up the original analysis by the Unifor Solidarity Network that “this is not the result of a few corrupt individuals – it is the inevitable consequence of decades of a culture of class collaboration”.

The latest revelations come from the Plea Agreement of Michael Brown, Director of Employee Relations at Fiat Chrysler from 2009 through 2016. In that position, “Michael Brown was personally involved in the negotiation and administration of the national collective bargaining agreements between” Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and the UAW, “and had authority to sign letters and agreements on behalf of FCA with the UAW. Michael Brown also represented FCA as a Co-Director of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center (NTC).”

Bob King (former UAW President), General Holiefield, Scott Gaberding (Fiat Chrysler), Al Iacobelli (Fiat Chrysler) at the opening of 2011 negotiations.

UAW and Fiat Chrysler – Co-conspirators

The plea agreement points to a conspiracy between UAW officials, FCA executives and the UAW and FCA “to violate the Labor Management Relations Act.”

The UAW has been trying desperately to distance themselves from this scandal, by claiming it only involved some rogue officials. Their denials are shown to be self-serving lies by the fact that they allowed those “rogue” officials to retire and collect pensions instead of taking action against them. Now the UAW is named as a co-conspirator.

Greasing the Skids for Concessions

The UAW also claimed that the corruption did not have any effect on workers’ contracts. However, FCA executive Brown now admits in his plea agreement that:

Michael Brown knew that the purpose of the conspiracy to provide prohibited payments to UAW officials was to grease the skids in order to obtain benefits, advantages, and concessions in the negotiation, implementation, and administration of the collective bargaining agreements between FCA and the UAW. 

Sham Employment

Another new detail revealed in the plea agreement is that Fiat Chrysler allowed UAW officials to have friends and family members put on the payroll on sham jobs where they did no work.

From 2009 through 2015, FCA executives authorized UAW Vice President General Holiefiield, UAW Official UAW-3, and other UAW officials to offer sham employment status at the NTC to a number of their friends, family, and allies … numerous individuals were categorized as being on “special assignment” status to the NTC when, in fact, those individuals did little or no work on behalf of the NTC.

One of the UAW officials implicated is former Vice President Norwood Jewell. Jewell was allowed to retire – he announced his surprise retirement in November 2017, and remained on the job until January. NTC funds paid for a party for Jewell in 2014.

More than $30,000 was spent throwing a party in August 2014 for former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, The News has learned. The party included “ultra premium” liquor, strolling models who lit labor leaders’ cigars and a $3,000 tab for wine in bottles with custom labels that featured Jewell’s name.

The Detroit News also revealed that “two of Jewell’s sons are servicing representatives with the union, according to the UAW’s annual filings. Justin Jewell is paid $125,744 while Derik Jewell’s total compensation is $116,726.”

Corruption Probe Widens to Include GM

The NTC fund is the centre of the corruption scandal, because it was designed to serve as a slush fund. It was jointly administered by Al Iacobelli and General Holiefield – the key actors in the conspiracy – and was funded by Fiat Chrysler at between $13 million and $31 million per year. But the UAW has similar funds at Ford and GM as well, and at least the GM fund is also being investigated by the Feds. In November 2017, The Detroit News reported that federal agents were interested in retired UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who abruptly resigned from the board of General Motors Co. in December, and Cindy Estrada, his successor in charge of the union’s GM department, who was re-elected this week at the UAW Convention. Here is some more about the GM fund from the Detroit News:

Allegations of nepotism are not limited to the UAW-Chrysler training center. GM and the UAW operate the Center for Human Resources training center in Detroit. So many relatives of UAW officials have worked there that some dub the facility the “Center for Hidden Relatives.”

Details about nepotism within the UAW training centers emerged in 2015 when former Center for Human Resources receptionist Shannan McDonald, unsuccessfully sued the training center. McDonald claimed she was forced to resign after being discriminated against due to a disability.

Estrada was deposed in April 2016.

“Ms. Estrada, do you have a daughter or step-daughter named Tara?” McDonald’s lawyer Jeffrey Burg asked during the deposition.

“Tara White,” Estrada said.

“What is she to you?” the lawyer asked.

“She’s my step-daughter,” Estrada said.

“And is Tara White working for (the training center) now?” the lawyer said.

“Yes, she is,” Estrada said.

“Is she working the receptionist job that Shannan had occupied before Shannan left?” the lawyer asked.

“Yes,” Estrada said.

Jerry Dias, Al Iacobelli and Steve Carlisle

When fraud charges were first laid against Al Iacobelli, Jerry Dias could only praise him:

“Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, the union that negotiated with Iacobelli for Canadian autoworker contracts, said he always viewed him as a professional labor executive.

I’ve probably known Al for 15 years. … This is right out of left field. I never would have expected it,” Dias said. “I’m in shock, to say the least.”

L to R: Jerry Dias, Steve Carlisle, President , General Motors Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend GM Canada announcement in Oshawa.

After Iacobelli left Fiat Chrysler, he was hired by GM and was put in charge of the 2016 negotiations with Unifor in Canada. Was there similar collusion here? Jerry has so far refused to say if that possibility was investigated. What is not in doubt, is that the 2016 pattern agreement with GM of Canada was the most unpopular in the union’s history, with two-tier wages and the elimination of defined benefit pensions for new hires.

Al Iacobelli is not the only corporate fat cat that Jerry Dias has a soft spot for. When Steve Carlisle left his position as President of GM of Canada, Jerry had only praise for him, including saying he considered him an “ally”!

“For me, it was imperative, during the 2016 contract negotiations, to have someone who I believed was an ally and who was looking for a solution,” Dias said in a telephone interview.  

In 2016, at a General Motors photo op announcement in Oshawa attended by Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne, Jerry refused to sit with members of the union local (Unifor Local 222) because he wanted to be as close as possible to Steve Carlisle and Trudeau (see picture).

Team Concept and Class Collaboration Must Go

Does Unifor also have a “Center for Hidden Relatives”? Whether they practice nepotism or not, it is clear the top Unifor leadership has travelled too far down the road of “team concept” and class collaboration. Auto workers won’t be able to make progress until that losing strategy is discarded.

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Auto Workers Against Wynne Show the Way Forward

The Auto Workers Against Wynne held a ground-breaking rally at Queen’s Park last Sunday. A group of non-union workers from the Toyota plant showed more initiative, more organizing smarts, and more willingness to take on the Liberal government than the leadership of Unifor. One of the leaders of the rally, Doug Penner, was interviewed on the Taylor Report (89.5 fm) Monday, April 23, 2018.

The governing Liberals did some backroom calculating and decided they could get away with excluding autoworkers from legislation providing 10 days emergency leave for Ontario workers. Premier Wynne found out fast that autoworkers at Toyota are wide awake and they do not sit back. They rallied at Queen’s Park and NDP leaders were quick to bring support. Unifor President Jerry Dias, a Liberal Party friend, was absent.

Listen to the interview here:

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Raiding Replaces Organizing at Unifor

Unifor claims to be the “largest private sector union” in Canada. It would be more accurate to describe them as the largest union-raiding organization in Canada. Unifor now spends more time and money raiding other unions than they do organizing un-organized workers. Almost 60% of “new” members in the first 3 months of 2018 came from raiding.

The proof is in the April 4 issue of Unifor’s online publication, Unilink. Unifor brags that they have signed up 1,605 new members, but 919 of those “new” members were actually hotel workers who had belonged to UNITE HERE 75 in Toronto. Unifor targeted 24 hotels represented by UNITE HERE and were only able to win votes at 5 of them. Those 5 units have an average size of 184 workers. That is an abject failure. Jerry’s incompetence at raiding is the only consolation here.

But an even bigger failure is the record of Unifor at organizing the unorganized. In the same three months, across Canada only 686 workers from 10 locations joined Unifor. The average unit size is under 70 workers. All but one of those certifications were in Ontario and Quebec. Unifor’s record in the other 8 provinces and 3 territories – one unit of 85 workers.

How is it possible that Unifor, with 18 full-time reps in the Organizing Department (all on 6-figure salaries), and an annual organizing budget of $10 million, can produce such dismal results? Is anyone in the corner offices at Unifor headquarters asking themselves why workers don’t want to join them? In all of 2017 they organized 3,279 workers. The 686 for the first quarter of 2018 is an even lower annual rate of 2,744. Could this be the reason Jerry Dias is willing to divide and undermine the house of labour in Canada in order to raid unions that are part of the Canadian Labour Congress?

Ford Oakville workers tell Jerry Dias what they think of the two-tier contract of 2016.

Workers Reject Two-Tier Concessionary Agreements

It’s no surprise that non-union workers at Toyota and Honda are not impressed when Jerry Dias “bargains” two-tier contracts with GM, Ford and FiatChrysler that have newer workers earning $15 per hour less than people beside them doing the same jobs. They don’t get equal pay for 11 years! Their pensions and benefits are inferior. Unifor “bargained” a 6-year grow-in starting at 70% of wages in 2009. In 2012 this was made worse – an 11-year grow-in starting at 60%. Despite the companies making record profits, Unifor failed to shorten the grow-in in 2016. Of course, this outrageous exploitation of newer workers has now spread into all sectors where Unifor bargains. Why would workers be inspired to sign on to a union whose bargaining is stuck in reverse?

Dias’ Friends Are Liberal Politicians, Not Workers

Shane Wark (left front) one of Jerry Dias’ assistants, cozying up to the Liberal Ministers of Labour and Transportation, along with some of Jerry’s Raiders.

The Unifor leadership is more interested in rubbing shoulders with corporate executives and Liberal politicians than hanging out with workers or fighting for their interests (see photo). This is class collaboration, and it is never going to appeal to workers who need a union that will put workers’ interests first. The most recent example – The Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne short-changed workers in the auto sector in the new employment standards legislation. Autoworkers get only 7 Paid Emergency Leave (PEL) days, while other workers get 10 PEL days. Worse – other workers get paid for the first 2 PEL days and autoworkers are paid for none. Yet, Jerry Dias is not willing to fight to get this changed. In fact, Jerry was part of the advisory panel that agreed to exempt the auto sector – because the corporate execs asked the government to give them special treatment. Now autoworkers are so angry they are circulating petitions and preparing for a rally at Queen’s Park on April 22. These efforts are being led by non union autoworkers from the Toyota and Honda plants. Instead of supporting this amazing effort – Jerry Dias is avoiding them like the plague. He won’t answer their phone calls or emails. He won’t mobilize Unifor members to attend the rally. The Ontario NDP is in full support, but not Jerry – he is sticking by his Liberal Party patrons. Instead of supporting the rally, he arranged his own meeting with Liberal ministers, and then bragged that he had gotten “a commitment by the Ontario government to launch a review panel to examine the

Autoworkers show their contempt for Jerry Dias’ post bragging about meeting with the Liberal ministers of Labour and Transportation and getting a promise of a “review panel”.

exemption”. Not a very impressive accomplishment – but that is what happens when you are not willing to fight. Of course, Jerry’s Facebook post where he made this hollow boast, attracted a slew of sarcastic, angry comments from real autoworkers. We have posted a screen shot of some of them, in case Jerry’s social media handlers ever get around to deleting them.

Support Autoworkers Against Wynne Rally at Queen’s Park April 22

Rally at Queen’s Park Sunday April 22, 2018

Unlike Jerry, we hope thousands of autoworkers, both union and non-union, show up at Queen’s Park on Sunday, April 22 at 10 am to demand fair treatment for all workers under the Employment Standards Act.

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Unifor Local 222 Endorses NDP

Unifor Local 222 strongly endorsed the NDP in the upcoming Ontario election, at their general membership meeting April 5. Local 222 represents GM workers in Oshawa and 30 other bargaining units in Durham region. This action is a dramatic rejection of the “strategic voting” policy of Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor.

The motion that was presented and passed noted that the key planks of Andrea Horwath’s campaign platform were in the best interests of the members of Local 222 and their community. It mandated a detailed strategy to engage and mobilize the Local’s rank-and-file members. The motion called on Local 222 to:

  • Mail a message to to every member of Local 222 highlighting the benefits of the NDP’s platform

    Jennifer French, Oshawa NDP MPP, supporting the campaign to keep GM in Oshawa
  • Invite local NDP candidates to address the Local’s membership meetings in May and June
  • Print articles in the Local’s monthly publication, the Oshaworker
  • Encourage members to participate in canvassing in the community

Local 222 members know that they have received strong backing from Oshawa MPP Jennifer French, especially during the 2016 auto bargaining. Meanwhile, autoworkers, like all workers across the province, have suffered from the policies of successive Liberal and Conservative governments. The Kathleen Wynne Liberals have privatized Hydro One – going even further than the Mike Harris Conservative government. Privatization has led to soaring hydro rates for workers, while the CEO of Hydro One gets a massive pay increase of $1.7 million dollars, to hit $6.2 million – a 37.8% increase in one year. The recent Liberal budget includes a backdoor scheme for the privatization of such key public assets as the TTC (ATU Local 113 has helped expose and publicize this reactionary plan. Notably, the Doug Ford Conservatives have the same policy on this issue as the Liberals.)

Autoworkers Discriminated Against by Liberal Regulation

The Liberals even had the arrogance to exclude autoworkers from the recent changes to labour standards in Ontario, knowing that their pal Jerry would go along. All other workers are now guaranteed 10 personal emergency leave days (PEL days), of which the first 2 must be paid. But autoworkers are limited to only 7 PEL days per year, and  get no paid days at all, because of a Liberal regulation. As usual, the Liberals are doing favours for their friends, the wealthy owners of the immensely profitable auto companies. Shamefully, Dias was a member of the “special advisory panel” along with the corporate executives, that agreed the poor auto companies needed this concession. This is on top of Jerry bargaining two-tier contracts that have new workers doing the same job for $15 per hour less than other workers. New workers take 11 years to get to equal wages, have inferior pensions, and have almost no post-retirement health care benefits.

Make it Count – for the NDP!

The Liberals and the Conservatives are both Bay Street parties – they are bought and paid for by corporate owners and financiers. They have fundamentally the same policies. The biggest threat in promoting “strategic voting” is that it is designed to confuse and mislead workers about the policy of the Liberal party. The strategic voting hucksters want to convince us that we should vote for the Liberals “to stop the Conservatives”. But what workers really need, is to fight for our own political demands and interests. We will never be served by electing parties that represent our adversaries, the corporate elite. Unifor’s official policy for the Ontario election is “Make it Count“, and they have mailed every Unifor member in Ontario a flyer that studiously avoids identifying which party would best represent us as workers. You have to wonder which side Jerry Dias is on. Actually, you don’t have to wonder – he makes it clear time and again that he is on the side of the Liberal Party, not on the side of the workers.

Jerry Dias Praises Liberal Budget

Most recently Jerry was quoted by the National Post praising the Liberal’s budget. They threw him a bone – as a reward for undermining the Canadian Labour Congress – a rule change that he can pretend supports his jingoistic attacks on international unions. As Sid Ryan said, “Bob White would turn in his grave to see The Financial (Com)Post, Toronto Sun, Unifor leadership and the Liberals, all on the same page”.

Support Working Class Politics

Local 222 is showing the way to dump “strategic voting” in the garbage bin where it belongs. We have to get rid of union leaders who believe in class collaboration, instead of fighting for workers. More Unifor locals need to take matters into their own hands, and stop blindly following the lead of Jerry Dias and his cronies.

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New Group “We Are Unifor” Opposes CLC Disaffiliation, Challenges Lack of Democracy by Unifor Leaders

There is growing opposition to undemocratic actions by Jerry Dias and other Unifor leaders, such as the unilateral disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress. A new group called We Are Unifor has been gathering signatures of Unifor members for their Democracy Declaration. Over 100 Unifor members from over 40 different local unions have already signed this declaration which states:

www.weareunifor.ca
  • It’s time for a more democratic Unifor. It’s time for a Unifor where major decisions are made by the membership. It’s time for a Unifor where political debate is encouraged and where members can voice their opinions without fear of intimidation and retribution.
  • It’s time for Unifor’s NEB to rescind the decision to disaffiliate from the CLC. Unilaterally disaffiliating, effective immediately, was a clear violation of the Constitution, a clear violation of our democratic rights as Unifor members.
  • No consultation. No membership vote. No mandate.

Four Unifor Locals Appeal Undemocratic Disaffiliation

We Are Unifor has also been instrumental in encouraging Unifor Local unions to file appeals (called “review of decision” in the language of the Unifor Constitution). We Are Unifor reported on February 26:

Four locals are now challenging the decision. Locals 88 and 567 recently joined locals 222 and 2025 in beginning formal appeals of the decision, arguing that leaving the CLC without a membership vote violated the Unifor Constitution.  Stay tuned for updates as these challenges proceed.

Please check out the We Are Unifor website at https://weareunifor.ca and their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WeAreUnifor/

The appeal from Unifor Local 222 was passed at the Local membership meeting on February 1.

Local 222 Request for Review

 

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Respect the Voices of Rank-and-File Hotel Workers

Jerry Dias has tried to justify his disaffiliation from the CLC and his failed attempted raid of hotel workers in UNITE HERE Local 75, by claiming he is defending workers from an “American Invasion”. Nothing punctures this false narrative more effectively than listening to the voices of actual rank-and-file hotel workers, the very workers who have organized their industry in Toronto and made impressive gains for their members.

The Taylor Report on CIUT-FM 89.5 interviewed Rick Hockley, a long-time Local 75 activist, on Monday, February 19, 2018.Everyone who is concerned with this current crisis in the Canadian labour movement should listen to this interview. Rick has been a server/bartender for 15 years. He was elected as a steward, then as chief steward for his property, then in 2008 was elected as a rank-and-file member of the UNITE HERE Local 75 executive board.

Some highlights:

Unifor raiding

The exact same day as they left the CLC … obviously it was premeditated for quite a while … at the least the last couple of months this has been their plan.

Dias’ raid is a flop – gets 5 out of 24 hotels

We weren’t expecting a majority of our union staff to leave our office and go to an opposing union, being able to have that access to our members … Of those 24 hotels that were attempted to be raided by Unifor – 17 of the hotels stuck together with UNITE HERE

Of 24 hotels that Unifor attempted to raid, 17 stayed with UNITE HERE Local 75

… there were votes at some, 5 of which decided to leave us, unfortunately, and there are two hotels where the boxes are sealed by the labour board currently.

Local 75 is a diverse, grass-roots union

In Toronto we have workers from 80 to 90 countries, who come from all over the globe, the majority are immigrants, people of colour … We’re a grass roots organization, we’re led by the workers. Myself, as a worker, we are the leaders of the organization. This doesn’t come from the top down. We’re not a corporation. We have the ability to have a voice, to have a vote, and that’s a little bit unique to us, sadly, when really it should be like that all across unions, across the world – workers’ power – right?

Trusteeship was asked for by the Local leadership

This was not something that was a brash, quick decision by our International. This was a long time coming. The executive board asked back in December 2016 to invoke the trusteeship because at that point our former president was just constantly making decisions unilaterally without respecting the democratic voice of the governing body, which is the elected executive board members – all rank-and-file members from within our hotels and food service … Three quarters of the executive asked for trusteeship in December 2016, we asked again in April 2017, it was imposed in January 2018.

Complaints of racism against former leaders

There was a lot of racism structurally within our local office in regards to demotions, promotions, hiring people, suspensions … when complaints or allegations were brought up it wasn’t investigated properly …Our leaders, our organizers who had really built our union, a lot of rank-and-file organizers who had come up to be a part of the labour movement and better peoples’ lives in the last couple of decades … they were being treated like criminals.

Listen to the complete interview:

 

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Unifor Local 222 Opposes Jerry Dias Exit from CLC

One of Unifor’s Key Auto Locals Stands in Opposition to Dias

The membership of Unifor Local 222 has issued a stunning rebuke to Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Ford Oakville workers tell Jerry Dias what they think of the two-tier contract of 2016.

At the Local 222 general membership meeting on February 1, two motions were passed that opposed the sudden, destructive action taken by Dias on January 16, to pull Unifor out of the house of labour. The Canadian labour movement has been in turmoil since, with the Unifor staff trying desperately to raid hotel workers belonging to UNITE HERE Local 75 (with limited success). The incredible momentum that had been built in support of Tim Hortons workers has suffered a setback. Meanwhile, a few top union officials have given up any pretence of principle and are scrambling to hold on to their 6 figure salaries.

The Local 222 motions are based on solid, working class principles. The first motion called on Dias to reverse the disaffiliation.

As members of Unifor Local 222 we are disappointed that you have taken the action of disaffiliating our union from Canada’s central labour body, the Canadian Labour Congress. While you obtained the endorsement of the National Executive Board for this drastic step, there was no advance notice to the broader members or local leaders of Unifor. As a result, the NEB endorsed your request before they had a chance to hear any of the views of our members.

The second motion endorsed an appeal (in the terminology of the Unifor Constitution, a ‘request for review’) of the NEB decision, because Dias had “violated the democratic rights of Unifor members in several ways”.

The two motions can be read in full here:

Local 222 letter to Jerry Dias against disaffiliation

Local 222 Request for Review of Decision (Appeal against Disaffiliation)

Local 222 has great historical importance. The April 1937 strike by GM workers in Oshawa was the impetus for the establishment of industrial unionism in Canada. In 1970, the Local 222 Women’s Committee led the fight against separate seniority rights for men and women workers that resulted in major improvements in the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the banning of such discrimination. Local 222 has now taken a courageous stand against the undemocratic actions of Jerry Dias and his entourage. Other Unifor locals should follow this lead.

Union Principles or Self-interest?

When Unifor announced they were no longer affiliated to the CLC and would no longer be paying their dues, it called into question the status of Unifor members who had been elected to leadership positions on the CLC Executive, on provincial Federations of Labour, and on local Labour Councils. Hassan Yussuff, for example, had been elected President of the CLC as a Unifor member – in fact Jerry Dias probably spent a million dollars bussing in people to vote for him. Under the CLC Constitution, Hassan Yussuff has no legitimacy to hold office and should step down immediately. He has been sending letters to other Unifor members holding office – such as this one sent to CLC Vice-President Dan Browne, who was elected to represent young workers:

“Dear Brother Browne: Due to the decision of your national union, Unifor, to disaffiliate from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), we regret to inform you that you cannot continue to serve as a Vice-President on the CLC Canadian Council.”

Hassan Yussuff

And then, reaching new depths of hypocrisy, Yussuff announced that he could continue collecting his President’s salary because he had obtained a membership card from the PSAC. Ordinary workers, whose dues fund the offices and 6 figure salaries of Hassan Yussuff and Jerry Dias, must be furious. The average wage of a Unifor member is $23.78 an hour, or under $50,000 a year. We can no longer tolerate union executives who are more focussed on enriching themselves than on working to improve the lives of workers.

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11 Questions for Jerry Dias

  1. Why are we devoting so much of our union’s resources on raiding instead of organizing un-organized workers? Isn’t this causing division and animosity between unions when we should be working together to help organize precarious workers like those at Tim Horton’s?
  2. Is your emphasis on getting workers from other unions into Unifor due to the lack of success by Unifor’s organizing strategy? Don’t you have 18 full-time National Reps in the Organizing Department with an annual budget of $10 million? How is it that the total number of new members organized in 2017 (up to the date of the Ontario Council meeting December 1, 2017) was only 3,279?

    12 Unifor National Reps who all make more than $125,000 per year standing in front of the Hilton Hotel waving flags. (Click on photo for larger version)
  3. There are 12 Unifor National Representatives in this picture, including three of your Assistants and two Department Directors, all of whom earn more than $125,000 per year. Why did you assign them to stand in front of the Hilton Hotel waving Unifor flags? Is that the best use of their time? Is that the best use of our dues money? I don’t see a lot of hotel workers in that picture – it seems you have more generals than soldiers.
  4. You claim you think all workers should have the right to vote on their choice of union – why have you blocked the efforts of fish harvesters in Newfoundland to have a vote for more than a year?
  5. How many former UNITE HERE Local 75 staff are now on the Unifor payroll? How much are we paying them? The former president of Local 75 was the subject of allegations of racism against her, and an independent investigation was under way. Why did you put her on the Unifor payroll before the issue was decided? Is that action in accordance with Unifor’s committment to oppose racism?
  6. You claim to uphold the principle of the Rand Formula – that everybody should pay their dues. Why doesn’t that principle apply to Unifor paying their dues to the CLC, the central labour body in Canada? Is it right for Unifor to withdraw its financial contribution, thereby hurting the ongoing work of the CLC on behalf of workers in Canada? Shouldn’t you stay and argue for the changes you want?
  7. What proposals for change did Unifor put forward at the last CLC Convention in May, 2017? Oh – you didn’t put forward any – why not?
  8. You claim that putting a local union under trusteeship is undemocratic. Doesn’t the Unifor Constitution allow the National Executive Board “on its own motion” to “supervise, reorganize or disband a Local Union”? Are you planning to remove this section of the Unifor Constitution (Article 15 M)? Why did you remove the charters of five Unifor locals in BC without a hearing? Was that democratic?
  9. When we need support from the rest of the labour movement in upcoming battles with employers, how will your division of the labour movement help us? How can we achieve equality in pay and benefits and the elimination of two-tier contracts without a broader movement, or do you not believe in those goals?
  10. The hotel workers in UNITE HERE Local 75 fought to have Toronto City Council impose tougher restrictions on Airbnb – why did you send a letter to Toronto City Council praising Airbnb and stating that “Because of Airbnb’s progressive approach, Unifor is exploring ways to work together with them. We will continue to explore areas of mutual interest to improve the public good, and if possible work towards a national partnership.”?
  11. If you believe in democracy – why did you fight so hard against the democratic decision of delegates to the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention to support the NDP in this year’s Ontario election? Do you put your support of Kathleen Wynne and Justin Trudeau ahead of the democratic, progressive decision of the OFL convention?

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Cory Weir on The Taylor Report “Unifor Disaffiliation is Destructive”

Cory Weir talks to The Taylor Report, CIUT-FM, about Unifor’s disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress, which has divided and weakened the workers’ movement in Canada.

“This exit from the CLC is absolutely destructive for the Canadian labour movement. We’re at a watershed moment where we have massive public outrage against bad bosses and employers who are pushing back against the minimum wage increase … We’re at this great moment to be out organizing workers, to be building our movement, building capacity of some of the most marginalized workers in the country – instead we’re in this massive public battle”

Listen to Cory Weir

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