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.
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?
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 calledWe 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:
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.
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.
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
… 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.
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.
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”.
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.”
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.”?
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?
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”
On January 17th, 2018 Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor, announced that he was disaffiliating our union from the 3.5 million member Canadian Labour Congress “effective immediately”. This division of Canada’s labour movement will be a huge blow to the struggles of workers across the country. The decision was ratified by Jerry’s hand-picked Unifor National Executive Board, who have never been known to stand up to him on any issue. But why weren’t we consulted as Unifor members? Why didn’t Unifor members get to vote? Supposedly this destructive move was taken in the name of “union democracy” – what a joke! The dues-paying members of Unifor never even knew disaffiliation was being discussed or voted on.
Unifor Exits In Order to Raid
What has motivated this undemocratic action? As many people have pointed out, part of the reason is Jerry’s desire to continue raiding other unions, instead of organizing unorganized workers. His efforts to engineer a takeover of the TTC workers of ATU Local 113 blew up in his face, even though Hassan Yussuff, CLC President, bent over backwards to try to help him. Yussuff unilaterally suspended part of the CLC Constitution to allow the raid, but was eventually forced by other CLC affiliates to reverse his position. (It has been pointed out by some, that Jerry Dias spent some $1 million of Unifor’s funds to get Hassan Yussuff elected as CLC President.) Jerry struck a deal with Bob Kinnear, ATU Local 113 President, to bring his members into Unifor, which one of Kinnear’s supporters referred to as “the big white shark”. At that time, Jerry also promised there would be support from Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne. But none of that translated into support from TTC workers, so the attempted raid fizzled out. Now the “big white shark” has another victim in its sights – the 8,000 Toronto hotel workers who are members of UNITE HERE Local 75. Knowing that he is unlikely to get the CLC to acquiesce to more raiding, Dias has decided to pre-emptively leave the CLC so that he can raid with impunity. The day after the disaffiliation Unifor was already trying to get hotel workers to sign Unifor cards.
Liberal Politics is the “Bigger Picture”
However, raiding is not the only motivation here. To fully understand what is going on, we have to pull aside the curtain and see who is really operating the levers. Jerry Dias, as President of Unifor, and his predecessor Buzz
Hargrove, President of the CAW, have been instrumental over the last few years in helping the Liberal Party capture a large chunk of the Canadian labour movement. They call their policy “strategic voting” but it is clearly designed to benefit the Liberals. In recent elections unions have contributed more money to the Liberal Party than to their traditional political partner, the NDP. In the 2011 Ontario provincial election, unions contributed a total of $1,019,876 to the Liberal Party, and a strategic voting front group, the Working Families Coalition, also primarily funded by unions, spent an additional $2.1 million on advertising against the Conservatives. Union contributions to the NDP were $836,956.
Part of cementing this Liberal ideological takeover of the labour movement has been installing Hassan Yussuff, a Unifor staffer, whose partner is an assistant to Jerry Dias, as President of the CLC; and displacing Sid Ryan with Chris Buckley, another Unifor staffer, as President of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
The disastrous results of this growing hegemony of Liberalism in the major bodies of the labour movement, is that there is no effective opposition to the anti-worker policies of the Trudeau and Wynne governments. Trudeau’s government embraces capitalist trade deals (CETA, TPP, NAFTA), he endorses climate-killing pipelines, he introduces bill C-27 to undermine defined benefit pensions – and the CLC is mute. Meanwhile Kathleen Wynne’s government legislates teachers back to work, privatizes Hydro and installs the leading privatization advocate, Ed Clark, as head of the LCBO – and the OFL provides no meaningful opposition leadership or mobilization. All because Unifor is determined to get Wynne and Trudeau re-elected. However, there is growing opposition in the labour movement to this policy of being in bed with Liberal governments.
Dias Infuriated by OFL Endorsement of NDP
The decision by Jerry Dias to ‘take his ball and go home’ and pull Unifor out of the CLC comes only 2 months after his embarrassing defeat at last fall’s OFL convention. Despite desperate maneuvering by Unifor operatives, the Convention adopted a policy to support the NDP in the 2018 Ontario election. Dias was furious, and threatened at the time that he would pull funding from the OFL. It seems clear that Dias wants to bully the CLC and Provincial Federations of Labour into supporting the Liberal Party – or else he will work to divide and undermine those bodies.
In his statement on the disaffiliation, Dias claimed:
“Unifor stands in support of union democracy and the rights of workers. Our union is opposed to any union that threatens, harasses, intimidates, or silences workers for simply asserting their democratic rights to choose a union or for the purpose of quelling dissent within the local.”
Was Jerry Dias defending democracy when he booted 5 BC Unifor locals out of the union without a hearing – a blatant violation of the Unifor constitution?
Is Dias defending the right of workers to choose a union when he uses legal maneuvering for over a year to prevent fish harvesters from voting on which union they want to belong to? This is from The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) Facebook page:
Good morning NL and all ships at sea. Let’s see if I have this straight: Unifor Canada has broken away from the Canadian Labour Congress over a disagreement about the rights of workers to choose what union should represent them, even as FFAW/Unifor blocks inshore harvesters in NL from choosing their union fate. GerrydiazLana Payne et al are full of sh-t.
Jerry Dias has allied himself with the Bay Street Liberal Party and turned himself into a shill for their policies. There is no better example of this than Jerry’s grandstanding as the supposed ‘voice of labour’ at the NAFTA negotiations. He is serving as the lap dog of Federal Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland (who continues to praise her Nazi-collaborator grandfather) and has made clear that he wants the Canadian and US governments to work together against the “real enemy” – Mexico. Instead of trying to build ties between US, Canadian and Mexican workers – which would be real solidarity, Dias disparages unions in Mexico. He calls them “protection” unions and claims they are in bed with companies and government. Instead of trying to work with the unions that actually represent auto workers in Mexico, Dias has made ties with a few dissident organizations. But if being in bed with corporations and their political parties is wrong – Dias and the UAW are as guilty as any union in Mexico. Here’s the kicker – in the joint UAW and Unifor NAFTA position paper from last summer, the source for information about Mexico – is the U.S. State Department!
Unifor members and locals should demand the immediate reversal of Jerry Dias’ undemocratic decision to pull out of the CLC. This action hurts the labour movement of Canada, which means it hurts all Canadian workers including Unifor members. This is happening at exactly the moment when there were strong grass-roots efforts to fight bad-boss Tim Hortons franchisees. Instead of raiding and division, we need all unions to work together to unionize low-wage workers.
The autocratic, egotistical actions by Jerry Dias are dangerous and destructive. It’s time Jerry – time for you to go. If Jerry does not do the honourable thing and resign, we need to do the honourable thing and impeach him.
Unifor National Executive Board unanimously (unconstitutionally?) voted to leave the CLC . This has caused a rift in the House of Labour and has rightfully gotten the activists of Unifor riled up, many of whom once belonged to a Regional Labour Council or Provincial Federation of Labour before this decision was made. As members of the Unifor Solidarity Network, we feel it’s important that you make your opinion heard directly to the NEB. We would also like to post your letters here as well, because we feel that this issue merits a full discussion with our members.
We call on all Unifor activists to stand against this undemocratic power move by our NEB, and to continue our important work at the grassroots while our leaders waste valuable time and energy at the top.
My name is Mike Mutimer. I’m a member of Local 222 and as of yesterday, I was a delegate and Executive Member at Large for the Durham Region Labour Council.
I write to express my displeasure with the National Executive Board’s unanimous decision to immediately disaffiliate from the Canadian Labour Congress.
While I can understand the NEB’s frustration with the CLC and the lack of action in regards to the bullying tactics of US based unions, are we not engaging in our own bullying tactic by withholding our per captia as Canada’s largest private sector union? In your “Facts on Unifor’s disaffiliation from the CLC” article, you don’t clearly say that WE (as Unifor) are acting like bullies, however when you say things like “It is our hope that the action to disaffiliate from the CLC will trigger change to ensure that workers in Canada have their democratic rights respected”, one can clearly read between the lines.
You’re hoping by starving the CLC of our per capita, they will “trigger change”. If that’s not a bully tactic, I’m not sure what is. This effectively removes two million dollars from their budget.
Further more, it would appear NEB also acted in violation of our own Unifor Constitution which states in Article 19: Affiliations, Section 2 : Suspension or disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress may be authorized by the National Executive Board subject to the approval of Convention, or the Canadian Council.
Reading through the resolutions of 2017’s Canadian Council, I don’t see any type of approval given to the NEB to act in this manner. This should have been approved by Canadian Council last year prior to this decision and not to be dealt with later this year.
I respectfully disagree that the NEB didn’t enter into this lightly. There has been conflicting messages in regards to affiliation to regional labour councils. If this was a well thought out decision, there would have been more discussion and especially with out members. This wouldn’t have been done during the middle of giant National Day of Action that has been put together by labour councils. The timing couldn’t be worse.
To conclude, I’m deeply disappointed by this action. It seems to be exactly the same type of bullying tactic that has been used in the past when unions didn’t get their way in the OFL and now Unifor is doing it to the CLC. There are better ways to resolve this issue than to remove the largest private sector union in the country from the House of Labour. It appears the NEB acted in violation of the Unifor Constitution Article 19 Section 2 that says suspension or disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress can be authorized by the the NEB SUBJECT TO APPROVAL of Convention or Canadian Council, which was not gained during the last 2017 Canadian Council.
I really hope this decision is reversed as soon as possible.
Unifor Local 222
Sisters and Brothers,
I’m writing to express my extreme displeasure with your recent unanimous decision to end our affiliation with the Canadian Labour Congress. The impact of this decision will have untold consequences for labour councils across the country and has absolutely embarrassed us in front of the broader labour community.
If we are truly concerned about democracy, why was this decision carried out behind close doors on an executive level without any mandate from our membership? Why would our National President release a statement urging our continued participation in regional labour councils when Section 7 of the CLC constitution very expressly prohibits our continued participation?
I am very aware of the situation with Unite Here Local 75 and the gross abuse of power and process they face at the hand of the UH International. I fully respect and support their right to self-determination as I have and will always place local union autonomy above all other union authority, however if it is self-determination we are truly seeking for these workers, would it not have sufficed to provide assistance for their highly capable, experienced, and engaged membership in the pursuit of their own independent direction instead of raiding their members and making Unifor the mockery of the Canadian labour movement?
We are in a watershed moment as labour fights to defend the gains made under Bill 148, and we desperately need to organize service sector workers. Instead though, we will wind up wasting enormous sums of our dues both engaging in and defending against raids without protection under Article 4 of the CLC. Hundreds of our most dedicated labour activists have now been plucked from both leadership and rank & file roles within the regional councils, effectively tearing apart both their funding and capacity in some instances. These councils are the lifeblood of the labour movement and your decisions have done immense harm to not only the councils but to the public image of unions in general which are routinely painted as greedy and only interested in securing dues. Consequently, it will take years to mend the mistrust that has now been sewn between Unifor and the rest of the unified labour movement.
This power move has come at such a grossly inopportune time, and has been carried out in such a callous and unthinking way that I question both the vision and intention of the primary motivators of this decision. With all of this said, I hope for the speedy and tactful rectification of this completely avoidable situation, and have faith in the ability of those on the NEB who recognize the true depth of this transgression against a united Canadian labour movement.