Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Former UNIFOR President Jerry Dias charged with breach of Union constitution

Former UNIFOR President Jerry Dias
(From Unifor)

Members of the National union UNIFOR, which represents a significant part of the national unionized workforce received the first update on a union matter that has seen their former President, Jerry Dias in the spotlight over some alleged questionable behaviour.

In a report delivered today it was announced the the National Executive Board for the union had determined that Mr. Dias is in breach of Article 4 of the UNIFOR Code of ethics and Democratic practices.

The four key elements of the Investigation into the issue include:

In December 2021 and January 2022, Dias promoted a supplier’s rapid test kits to various Unifor employers, either directly or through Unifor staff under his direction. Several employers of Unifor members purchased tests as a result of Dias’ introductions. 

At some point prior to January 20, 2022, Dias accepted the sum of $50,000 from the supplier. 

On January 20, 2022 Dias gave a Unifor employee what Dias said was half of the funds ($25,000), telling the employee that it had come from the supplier. 

The employee subsequently lodged a complaint under the Unifor Code of Ethics and delivered the funds that he received from Dias to the National Secretary-Treasurer.

The investigation was commissioned by UNIFOR National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne, who received a formal complaint about Mr. Dias' activities in late January.

“Unifor is built on a democratic foundation that holds all members to the highest of standards. Our Constitution has strong checks and balances, a robust code of ethics and comprehensive enforcement procedures to ensure that the conduct of all elected leaders reflects the responsibilities entrusted to them,” --  Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne .

The next step, as outlined in the Unifor Constitution, will be a hearing before the National Executive Board. During the hearing, Mr. Dias will have an opportunity to fully present information and arguments concerning the charge. 

Unifor noted today that it is currently seeking legal advice regarding any legal obligations arising from these events.

“Our trust in one individual has been broken, but our confidence in the integrity of our union remains strong. I hope that members will recognize the strength of the Constitution that Unifor was built upon. Our union has stood this serious test and the integrity of our process has proven that accountability and transparency to our members is and will always remain our first priority," --  Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne .

UNIFOR represents 315,000 workers in every major sector of the Canadian economy making it the largest union in the nation's private sector, perhaps best known through the auto sector.  

In the Northwest they are known for their partnership with UFAWU in representation of local fishing industry workers, at Rio Tinto in Kitimat and those in the retail and service sector.

Prior to today's union update, Mr. Dias, who had announced his retirement earlier this month,  noted that health issues had impaired his judgment in recent months and that he was now seeking treatment towards them.

He had been the union's first President following its split from the Canadian Labour Congress in 2018.

UNIFOR provided a video of their information session today through their Facebook page which you can view below.

More notes on today's announcement from the union can be reviewed here.

A look at labour themes across the Northwest can be explored here.

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