Unifor de-charters BC locals

By Daniel Tseghay

On November 8, the Unifor National Executive Board voted to revoke the local union charters of a number of British Columbian staff representative locals.

unnamed
Letter from Unifor President Jerry Dias to Local 467 President Selena Kongpreecha informing her that Local 467 has been de-chartered from Unifor. Click image to enlarge.

These previously Unifor locals were made up of members who worked at other unions. This consisted of members of Unifor who work for the British Columbia Nurses’ Union, the Hospital Employees’ Union, the Health Sciences Association, BC Teachers’ Federation, and local 467, an amalgamated union consisting of staff representatives who work at the BC Government and Services’ Employees Union, the BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, the Professional Employees Association, and some Canadian Union of Public Employees Union locals.

“This is pretty unprecedented,” says Melissa Moroz, a member and vice-president of 467, who’s also on Unifor’s national health, safety and environment committee. Moroz is a staff representative with the Professional Employees Association.

Speaking on her own behalf and not that of Local 467, Moroz links getting de-chartered of Unifor with the recent collective agreement signed between Unifor 888 and the BCNU. Unifor ratified a deal that had members crossing picket lines.

The BCNU has been kicked out of the the BC Fed for raiding which RankandFile.ca has written about previously. When clerical workers who work for BCNU represented by MoveUP, went on strike in late-July, they were joined by BCNU staff representatives who are members of Unifor 888. The Unifor members, however, went back to work and a signed a contract many see as in conflict with the spirit of the labour movement.

The tentative agreement, signed while MoveUP members were still on strike, read: “As required by management, Unifor 888 members will work from home for the duration of the job action and will be provided with the necessary resources to carry out their work.”

“That agreement was ratified,” says Moroz. “So the rest of the labour movement was like: How do you sign something like this? This goes against one of our basic principles.”

Sometime after, during a BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) meeting, representatives from various unions expressed concerns about the tentative agreement. Unifor leadership then left the meeting and, consecutively, asked their BC locals to not attend the BCFED Convention, and advised the locals to de-affiliate from the BCFED. Unifor then took the unprecedented step of de-chartering the staff representative locals.

Unifor National has not been clear on why they de-chartered these locals but Moroz suspects it has to do with a clash of union cultures and Unifor’s more top-down decision making practice.

“The leadership of my local are guided by the rank and file members of the local and not the National Executive Board,” says Moroz. “This put us in conflict with a few important political decisions made by National. For example, my local supported then Unifor 467 member Aaron Ekman for secretary treasurer of the BC Fed. To put it mildly, Unifor National did not approve. My local was not in favour of strategic voting nor were we supportive of any kind of relationship with the BCNU while they were raiding.”

“The National Executive Board wanted unconditional loyalty from members. They didn’t get it from us.”

And loyalty matters when many question Unifor’s relationship with BCNU in light of its history of raiding other unions. “Unifor partnered up with the BCNU to do an ad campaign for the federal election,” says Moroz. “A significant portion of our time is warding off BCNU raids and then we see our union partnering with BCNU to do an ad campaign. So my local sent a letter to Jerry Dias saying “the nurses are raiding and this is bad. Please stop partnering with them.” Their response was they’ll do what they want.” blog_labour_day_parade_unifor_banner

Fortunately these locals are still unions. Their collective agreements are still in effect and many of them are looking at addressing Unifor’s actions legally. It’s an open question, for instance, if this move is consistent with the constitution of the Canadian Labour Congress.

But, whatever happens there, this move raises concerns that Unifor can remove the charter of its locals effectively punishing disloyal locals without much deliberation and democratic discussion.

Tomorrow will be the final day of the 5-day BC Federation of Labour Convention and Unifor locals were not in attendance. Instead, Unifor placed ads in the Vancouver Sun and the Province newspapers with the stated desire of an inclusive and activist Federation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 thoughts on “Unifor de-charters BC locals

  1. I was a Labour activist all of my life and I am watching Unions and organizations treat their members like garbage. Jerry Diaz sold out all new hires for the auto sector, and Yusseff is too busy hugging Trudeau and badgering the youth activists that turned their backs to Trudeau, to be concerned about pensions, and Local membership. I am so glad that I am retired, but my heart goes to all young activists with political monsters like these two now in charge of many members.

  2. Dave Scott BCTF Retired Staff

    Reply

    Rumour has a Unifor having the BCNU as a major affiliate now
    That’s the reason for the explulsion of the staff unions.
    BC Fed refused to do anything when CEP 464 and the BCTF were in bargaining and the BCTF locked out the staff union (Unifor 464)
    Unifor should have learned from that and just backed off any involvement with either the BCNU or their support staff union

    What will happen when another 2 affiliates to the same umbrella group get in conflict?

    Unifor is too embarrassed to attend the BC Fed convention – they pulled out because they knew they would be slammed for this unprecedented attack on a legitimately affiliated union

    Makes the provincial and federal management rub their hands with glee – knee-caps lobbying and persuasion as a united front all over.

    Thoughtless action – should have asked their staff for advice first. (Heheh)

  3. I am currently an orphan of Local 888. I wish to make it very clear that not all of the then Unifor 888 members returned to work when the collective agreement was ratified. Nine serious activists refused to cross the picket line. We stayed the course with our MoveUp brothers and sisters. Since then 4 of this group have lost their jobs and the other 5 have not yet been returned to work, even though the picket line came down November 24. Personally I was appalled that Unifor would even recommend an agreement to our bargaining unit which included a return to work, out of order of seniority, and have work preformed remotely while a Union had a legal picket line up around the work place.

  4. Staff Unions are typically groups of very knowledgeable members expert in various topics around workplace law. Unifor, under questionable leadership are ridding themselves of members who will challenge an organization built on nepotism rather than knowledge and ability. Those who are educated pose a threat to an organization who value their carefully marketed Unifor brand over actual demonstrated values. If Unifor is the future of the Labour movement, the future for workers and the middle class is very dim.

  5. Pingback: The ATU Raiding Fiasco – Unifor Solidarity Network

Add Comment