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 dollars, 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?
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?
Cozying up to the Liberals
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 Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) days, while other workers get 10 PEL days. Worse – other workers get paid for the first two 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 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.
This post was first published on Solinet