OPSEU seeks to repair rift between Unifor and Canadian Labour Congress

TORONTO — Unifor and the Canadian Labour Congress both say they’re optimistic peacemaking efforts from Ontario’s largest public sector union can help them end their war over the rights of workers to choose which union should represent them.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said he stepped up on Monday to attempt to repair the rift, which was exacerbated when Unifor left the national lobby group for Canada’s labour movement in mid-December.

He said if it continues for much longer, he believes it will ”rip apart the labour movement at all levels” and push more unions to raid each other’s members.

“I don’t want to see the house of labour fall apart,” Thomas said in an interview. “I am not going to sit around and not try.”

His attempt to unite both bodies stems from an argument festering for months, with Unifor complaining that the congress’s process for allowing workers to change unions doesn’t work because of aggressive and undemocratic tactics shown by U.S.-based unions towards workers in Canadian. Their relationship worsened when the union said it requested to join a congress committee studying the ability of workers to switch unions, but was ignored.

Thomas’s efforts to unite the two manifested itself in a letter he released urging Unifor national president Jerry Dias and Congress president Hassan Yussuff “to park their grievances, table their differences and figure out a way to reach consensus.”

Dias said he applauds Thomas for the attempt to repair the relationship.

“I think this bodes well,” Dias said in an interview. “It is a step in the right direction.”

Yussuff said he will take “whatever help I can get,” because “it is always disappointing when we have a dispute in our labour family.”

Thomas’s letter acknowledged both sides, saying Dias has raised many valid points and does not deserve to be brushed off — but that his union’s “unilateral” move to leave the congress was unhealthy.

To address their issues, Thomas wants Unifor to participate in the establishment of a constitutional review committee and commit to abandoning any future plans to raid other unions for members.

Thomas described raiding as being counterproductive to the labour movement and like “shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic” because “once on union starts raiding, everyone will start raiding.”

Dias ardently denied that he has ever raided a member, but said, “if people need a place to go and I am going to give them that outlet, it is better for them to be unionized than not.”

Thomas letter noted that he spoke with Dias and Yussuff last week in Montreal to try to repair their relationship, but said he’s unsure whether the discussion will be enough to unite them.

“It is fixable and everyone thinks so but we have to sit down and work at it,” said Thomas.

Just Posted

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Study of U.S. hospital figures links pot use with increased risk of stroke

MONTREAL — New research is being presented at a conference in Montreal… Continue reading

Most Read