TORONTO – A closed-door meeting today by American unions that have affiliates in Canada shows everything that is wrong with what the Canadian Labour Congress has become, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
“They called this meeting because they think Unifor is coming after their members. Unifor is not coming after anybody,” Dias said.
“When the Canadian locals of American unions express an interest to change unions, the response to this request cannot be to trustee the local, seize the assets and fire the staff.”
On Monday, Unifor welcomed workers at the Courtyard Marriott and the Marriott Bloor Yorkville in downtown Toronto to form the newest local in the union, Unifor Local 7575. Workers at the two locations voted overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from their US-based UNITED HERE, and join Unifor.
“These hotel workers are making the democratic choice to be represented by a different union, and they will find a welcome home with Unifor,” Dias said.
More such votes are planned this week and next at other UNITE HERE Local 75 bargaining units in Toronto and Mississauga.
The American parent union of UNITE HERE Local 75 placed the local into trusteeship earlier this month in a dispute over the right of the local to set its own course, including in bargaining. It also removed elected officers and seized the local's assets.
Unifor disaffiliated from the CLC earlier this month over a dispute with the organization over its handling of union members who want to switch unions. The current process leaves such members open to intimidation and bullying from their US parent unions.
“American unions in Canada need to take a serious look at how they treat workers in Canada, and the right they give workers in Canada to chart their own course. In the end, that is their best defense against losing members," said Dias.
"This is not to say that all U.S-based unions should be painted with the same brush, but rest assured that when a union puts their local in to trusteeship specifically to quell the dissent of workers expressing their desire to change unions, Unifor will have something to say. “
Unifor remains hopeful that everyone with influence will do their part to get this conversation started in a meaningful way that seeks to find a resolution to the problems that have led us to this point.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.