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: