ATU Trusteeship, Unifor Raid, CLC Crisis

UPDATE: This article was published at 2:30am on February 10. Hours after publication Hassan Yussuff of the CLC sent a letter to Paul Thorp, President of ATU Canada, informing him that article 4 was being reinstated for Local 113 and the justification process would proceed. We also received a complaint and request from Unifor for a retraction over two parts of our story. The first involves our statement claiming that if Kinnear took the actions he did at a Unifor local he would “most likely” be trusteed. We referenced and linked to Unifor’s Guide for Local Union By-Laws and its constitution. Unifor disagrees. We think our interpretation is a fair one and we will leave it up to you the reader to decide. The second call for retraction is over this statement: “Unifor is now openly raiding ATU Local 113. Organizers from Unifor will be visiting job sites and hoping to sign up ATU members to Unifor cards.” Unifor denies signing any cards. We never claimed they did. We wrote that they will be visiting job sites and hoping to sign cards. We believe this was a reasonable interpretation of the facts as they were. Our statement was based on multiple independent sources and the public statements made by Jerry Dias. After the reinstatement of the article 4 protections, which Unifor says they support, we believe the situation has changed and we will continue to follow the story.  


Toronto Sun coverBy David Bush, Gerard Di Trolio and Doug Nesbitt

Late on February 2, the Amalgamated Transit Union International trusteed the Toronto-based ATU Local 113. The 10,000 members of Toronto’s TTC transit workers union awoke to the news that their elected leadership, headed by President Bob Kinnear, had been ousted. The initial news reports painted this as an attack on local Canadian autonomy by a big American labour union. The Sun even went so far as to decry the trusteeship as an American “invasion.”

Is this depiction accurate? What has slowly emerged over the last week is not simply a story of an imposed trusteeship by a U.S. based international union, but a story of CLC-sanctioned raiding and inter-union power politics. All of which has gone on behind the backs of ATU Local 113 members and threatens to tear apart the Canadian labour movement.

What we know so far

On February 1, Kinnear sent a letter to Hassan Yussuff, President of the CLC. In this letter Kinnear, appearing to speak for the Local, requests access to section for 4.9 of the CLC constitution to which outlines the process for justifying changing unions.

Section 4.9 of the CLC constitution is initiated when the CLC “receives a request from a group of workers wanting to leave their own union.” The CLC’s first response upon receiving such a request, according to section 4.9a, is to “encourage those members to work within the constitutional provisions and policy procedures of their own union,” and to “also contact the ranking officer of the members’ union to convene a meeting within one week with the workers and their union in an attempt to mediate and resolve the situation.”

The letter of February 1 from Kinnear to the CLC, although written as speaking on behalf of his Local, is signed by Kinnear only. At no point did Kinnear get a mandate from the membership to initiate section 4.9, nor did he even get the executive board approval of his own Local.

In the February 1 letter Kinnear makes reference to being insulted by the International leadership, the lack support for the Local’s campaigns, the absence of support in opposing essential services legislation Bill 150, the denial of Canadians to choose representatives to the ATU International Executive Board (despite two Canadians being elected to the ATU International Executive Board) and a groundswell of membership wondering why they are sending money to Washington D.C.

A day later CLC president Hassan Yussuff sent a letter to Paul Thorp, President of ATU Canada, informing him that the CLC received an application for 4.9 at ATU Local 113.

Email about the impending trusteeship. Unifor staffers cc’d.

Later that day Bob Kinnear’s public relations officer, paid for by 113, received a forwarded email from union consultant Bill Reno and was told to give it to Kinnear. The email, from a lawyer at Dewart Gleason, was cc’d to Anthony Dale, Unifor staff lawyer and director of their legal department, Scott Doherty, assistant to the President of Unifor, and lawyers from two law firms. The email outlined what to do if police arrive in the event of a trusteeship, it also had a draft notice of motion, for unknown purposes attached to it. It was clearly part of an on-going discussion between Kinnear and Unifor.

Later on February 2, the ATU International sent a letter to Kinnear, Kevin Morton, the Local’s financial secretary, and Bill Chrisp, the executive vice-president, informing them of the trusteeship. The International immediately appointed International Vice President Emanuele “Manny” Sforza as trustee. Sforza had been an executive-vice president of Local 113.

The following day, February 3, Yussuff sent a letter to Paul Thorp, President of ATU Canada, cancelling a planned meeting between Kinnear, Yussuff and Thorp to address proceeding with article 4.9. Yussuff stated in the letter that the trusteeship violated section 4.9, claiming workers have the right to engage in the justification process without reprisal. Yussuff then informed the International that Local 113 had been suspended from the anti-raiding protections of Article 4 of the CLC’s constitution. Yussuff’s letter effectively opened the door to CLC-sanctioned raiding of Local 113.

Also on February 3, ATU International President Larry Hanley sent out a letter to Local 113 members notifying them of the trusteeship, and a subsequent hearing to be held within 30 days. In the letter Hanley says Kinnear violated the local’s bylaws by not going through the proper channels, which would mean either a membership vote or executive board vote. Hanley also stated Kinnear violated the ATU Constitution and General Laws, specifically section 22.2 which outlines the charges of dual unionism as “such persons are affirmatively engaged in promotion, implementation, furtherance, or support of any other union or collective bargaining group with the purpose or intent of supplanting the ATU.”

Hanley also sent a letter to Yussuff the same day outlining the above reasons for the trusteeship. By the end of the weekend the majority of the Local’s executive board has been reinstated and sided with the ATU International against Kinnear, even signing letters denouncing Kinnear’s unilateral actions. To date 13 of the 17 board members have been reinstated. The Local leadership is now claiming support from 90% of stewards. Kinnear claims board members have been coerced, no evidence nor statements have been produced to back his claim up. 

BOBKinnear’s motivation

As soon as the trusteeship came down Kinnear went on an aggressive media blitz. Much of what he had to say focused on the fact that ATU is a US-based union. On Monday he told the Toronto Star, “I’m hopeful that other organizations, the labour movement, are going to stand behind us and say that we are not alone, that the Canadian labour movement will take on this hard-ass American union that thinks they can come into Canada and squash our democratic rights.”

The ATU represents 200,000 members in North America, with 30,000 members in Canada. From multiple Local 113 members we talked to Kinnear has long been at odds with the International.

Kinnear, who was first elected Local 113 president in 2003, won a scandal-ridden fifth consecutive election in 2015 by a 51 percent. Kinnear had originally declared he was not going to run for a fifth term, but then announced his re-election bid using the union email system and phone directory to set-up robocalls. These actions directly violated the Local’s by-laws, as no other candidate was given access to these resources. A complaint was made and the International ordered a rerun of the election after Kinnear’s appeal failed. A new election was ordered for September 2016 and Kinnear won by 61 percent. He didn’t have to face his previous challenger Rocco Signorile, who had by that time retired.

In the fall of 2015, the ATU reorganized its Canadian section, by forming ATU Canada in order to give Canadian locals more autonomy, control and coordination. It also gave smaller locals in Canada more of a voice compared to 113. Bob Kinnear was elected President of this newly formed body, but then quit just months later after his local election was contested and ultimately overturned.

At the last ATU International convention, held in Toronto in October of 2016, Kinnear ran for the 18th International Vice-President position, which was open after his father, Larry Kinnear, who held the seat, retired. In a contested election Kinnear ran against and lost to another Local 113 member, Manny Sforza. Sforza is now the acting trustee at Local 113.

While it is hard to say with complete accuracy, it looks like some of the issues at Local 113 and the ATU can be chalked up to internal union power politics. Kinnear was popular enough to have won several elections (some acclaimed), but it is also clear he overstepped the line in the 2015 election.

Bill 150, Kinnear, and the International

In 2010 Larry Hanley, the former president of the Staten Island ATU Local 726, defeated the incumbent Ronald Heintzman to become the President International of the ATU. Hanley, represented a leftward and more activist shift for the union and was unanimously supported by the 113 executive board. Hanley is a regular at Labor Notes conferences and the union was one of a handful to endorse the Bernie Sanders campaign.  

Kinnear’s complaints about the International revolve around the charge that they have hindered the actions of 113. For instance, Kinnear complained that “when our right to full collective bargaining was wiped out by Ontario Bill 150 by the Liberal government, ATU International was nowhere to be seen.” The bill, passed in 2011, less than a year after Hanley came to power, was indeed sweeping and terrible. However, what was it that the international was supposed to do, but didn’t?

When essential services legislation was being requested by Toronto City Council in the lead up to the Liberals passing Bill 150, Kinnear was promising not to strike before a new contract was even signed in exchange for essential services legislation being taken off the table. Outside of launching a court challenge against 150, Kinnear did not prepare his members for a fight beyond the rhetoric. He even went so far as to publicly state that he hoped any essential service legislation would mean steady pay increases and good benefits as happened with firefighters. Kinnear wouldn’t be the first union leader to wrongly imagine that higher pay and better benefits would be the trade-off for losing the right-to-strike.

The same threats without action were made when the TTC contracted out 160 cleaning jobs. Kinnear said he would void the overtime agreement with the province in protest. But this never happened. The jobs were contracted out, and Kinnear then spent hundreds of thousands on a smoke-and-mirrors “Protecting What Matters” ad campaign.

Bill 150 should be a dead letter because of the January 2015 Supreme Court ruling saying the right-to-strike was protected under the Charter of Rights. Rather than gear up the membership to break Bill 150 and build a legal strategy around collective action, Kinnear has filed a Charter challenge instead, leaving the membership to wait around while lawyers rake it in.

There is no doubt that the International, even under progressive leadership, is not beyond criticism from members and local officials. However, it is also all too easy for local leadership to excuse their inaction and ineffectiveness by simply blaming the International.

Kinnear is playing the old game of bashing the US-based International leadership, saying that Canadian union members are losing out. Kinnear called the trusteeship, “an attack on Canada and our autonomy.” Every media appearance and interview Kinnear has given since last week has gone out of its way to frame the battle along national lines.  

“I have been consistent in standing up for Canadian values and standing up for the members I was elected to represent. I will continue to do that despite all the assertions,” Kinnear said at a Tuesday press conference. “I am trying to provide a democratic opportunity for our members so they can control their future and not my future.”

But has Kinnear respected democracy? In a recent Globe and Mail article he said, “If I had brought this to a full board meeting, and not talked to people individually, I would have been ousted five minutes after that board meeting was over.”

Kinnear was unable and unwilling to go through his own local’s process to decide to disaffiliate from the ATU. So he himself, without consulting membership or winning a democratic mandate of the Local’s executive board, initiated the CLC’s justification process.

The CLC and raiding

This whole affair is a serious crisis in the CLC. As soon as the ATU trusteeship came down, the CLC suspended its own anti-raiding rules, section 4 of the CLC constitution, for Local 113 of the ATU. Yussuff unilaterally cancelled the meeting to follow up on the justification process in Section 4.9. This amounts to the CLC declaring that it is okay for unions to raid ATU Local 113.

The CLC, which is normally silent on most internal matters, had made statements showing it is taking sides in this dispute. Chris MacDonald, a former Unifor staffer and now CLC assistant to Yussuff, told the Toronto Star the ATU trusteeship was “payback” for Kinnear going to the CLC.

Section 4 of the constitution, dealing with disputes, was adopted in 2002 as is, in response to a series of raids by the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW). Section 4.9 was a process designed for members who wanted to leave their union and join another. The first step of Section 4.9 is to encourage members to use official channels and then set up a mediated process to find a solution. The mediator/investigator examines the claims made by the members, and makes sure no other affiliate union is attempting to influence them either directly or indirectly. The mediator then makes a binding decision, such as ordering elections, making them a directly charted local, or setting a cooling-off period. The process ensures fairness for the members making the complaint and also helps ensure no other union is interfering directly or indirectly. In short it helps to prevent raiding.

What is clear from the documents and letters now publicly available is that there was collusion between Kinnear and Unifor before, during, and after the trusteeship. On-going investigations inside the ATU is likely to reveal more evidence as to the extent of it. By suspending the justification process, the CLC has also suspended the formal investigation. The unilateral suspension of the justification process by Yussuff makes getting more facts and a more accurate account of what happened more difficult.

Kinnear was trusteed because as a local president he violated his duty to abide by the constitution of the ATU and the local by-laws by himself initiating the justification process without going through the proper democratic channels. His active communication with another CLC affiliate about this makes his actions hard to defend. It makes it next to impossible for the CLC to justify its actions, as well.

If all it takes for the CLC to suspend article 4.9 of the constitution is a local leader being trusteed for violating democratic procedures, then what good is it? Local leaders should not be afforded protection to undemocratically facilitate a raid.

Trusteeship is heavy-handed and flies in the face of local democracy. It is an action that certainly gives Kinnear some ammunition, but it is not a reason for the CLC to suspend the justification process.

Kinnear and Dias at joint press conferenceUnifor raiding

Unifor claims that it did not interfere with internal matters in Local 113, though it does admit to offering legal advice to Kinnear before the trusteeship. The leaked communication between Unifor and Kinnear after the justification process was enacted is itself a violation of the justification process as laid out in section 4.9j which states:
If the Investigator/Mediator concludes that another affiliate has attempted to influence or interfere with an affiliate’s membership either directly or indirectly, in any matter covered by this protocol, the offending affiliate will not be entitled to exercise any rights under this protocol.”

On Tuesday February 7, Jerry Dias sat next to Bob Kinnear at a press conference and slammed the ATU for imposing the trusteeship. “I’m not going to allow somebody in the United States to seize the assets of Canadian workers. That union hall is owned by the workers. They don’t have the right to take out of office those who were democratically elected,” said Dias.

It is worth noting that if Kinnear had engaged in the same action but as a Unifor Local president, he would have most likely been trusteed for violating Unifor’s by-laws under section 5b of the Guide for Local Union By-Laws, which states:
A member in exercising the foregoing rights and privileges shall not take any irresponsible action which would tend to jeopardize or destroy, or be detrimental to, either the Local or National Union as organizations, or their free democratic heritage, or which would interfere with the performance by this Local Union or the National Union of its legal or contractual obligations as a collective bargaining agent, or interfere with the legal or contractual obligations of this Local Union as an affiliate of the National Union.”

Unifor is now openly raiding ATU Local 113. Organizers from Unifor will be visiting job sites and hoping to sign up ATU members to Unifor cards. Unifor needs to get 40 percent of members signed to cards to trigger a vote. This is happening because the CLC has suspended Section 4.

Better contracts? Fighting P3s?

This situation is very dangerous. If Unifor and the CLC are allowed to proceed, it opens the door for more widespread and flagrant raiding across the country. A practice which does not build the density or power of the union movement. It means the anti-raiding language in the CLC constitution is a dead letter at the whim of the CLC leadership. There is no reason to think Unifor will stop at Local 113 because it has a long history of raiding through its CAW roots. If they are successful they will go after every other ATU local in the country.

Of course that is easier said than done. The recent big three auto deals Unifor signed had big concessions to their pension plan for new hires. There is no reason to think that Unifor is better positioned to represent ATU members just because they are a Canadian union.

After a decade-long effort, the CAW successfully raided the Vancouver local of the Independent Canadian Transit Union representing Metro Vancouver public transit workers in 2000. The agreements reached under Unifor are worse than Local 113’s deal with the TTC. Unifor’s deal has a grow-in twice as long, and wages for drivers are significantly less.

The ATU has, especially since Hanley’s election, taken a political line that governments need to invest more in public infrastructure and mass transit. The ATU in Ontario and across Canada has taken a strongly pro-NDP line and spurned the Liberals. During the last election in Ontario, Local 113 itself was one of the major critiques of Wynne’s privatization schemes and lack of public funds devoted to transit. Contracting out and privatized P3 infrastructure under Trudeau and Wynne continue to be major political problems for the union.

Kinnear says he wants to help the Local 113 membership, but joining Unifor means lining up with Dias who is a backer of Wynne and Trudeau, two of the country’s biggest proponents of P3 and privatized infrastructure projects. P3 and privatization aren’t just cash cows for corporations. It is no secret privatization and P3s are also weapons against workers, their unions, and collective agreements.

Fighting Right-to-Work

South of the border the ATU like many other public sector unions is under the gun. Right-to-Work laws have just been in Missouri and Kentucky and they will significantly impact the ATU. The union will have to devote large resources to battle RTW in those states and restructure those locals unions so they can survive. A national Right-to-Work law has been introduced by the Republican-controlled Congress, which would be the greatest assault on American trade union rights since Taft-Hartley.

To effectively fight this attack, the ATU and other international unions will need resources and solidarity to sustain the fight. Unifor, with the CLC’s blessing, is trying to divide and weaken the ATU and by extension attacking all international unions through nationalism.

This is a gift not just to Trump and the Republicans south of the border, but a gift to the Tories in Ontario who would be happy to take power when unions are paralyzed by leadership power games. Hudak wanted right-to-work in Ontario in the last election and Brown is staying quiet on it now. We can’t put it past the Tories to introduce it with no notice if they take power. The struggle against anti-union Right-to-Work needs to be fought on both sides of the border as part of a common fight, not divided through nationalism.

IMG_58245602ea2530868What’s next?

What Local 113 needs is a principled and organized caucus of rank-and-file members whose goal is building a strong, democratic union that can actually fight management when it needs to, and work with other locals in ATU and other unions to fight for common goals: like public infrastructure, strong worker rights, and democratic unions.

Lessons can be learned from 113’s own great history, from the experiences of other ATU locals across Canada and the US, the RMT in Britain, as well as the lessons of the “New Directions” caucus of TWU Local 100 in New York City.
The future of 113, how it should handle the trusteeship, should ultimately be up to the members of the local, not Yussuff, not Kinnear, not Dias or Hanley.

The labour movement should take a strong position against this raiding by Unifor and demand the CLC restart the justification process. Internal matters inside the ATU should be left to ATU members to sort out themselves. The labour movement is facing many threats in Canada and the United States. The palace intrigue and power politics of leadership are a dangerous distraction from the true fights that lay ahead.

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23 thoughts on “ATU Trusteeship, Unifor Raid, CLC Crisis

  1. Open Letter to All Parties Concerned!

    February 9, 2017

    Some very serious questions should be answered to prevent the callous nature with the way this problem is been handled. Bob’s Robo Calls were not made by physically dialling one’s number as that would be technically impossible, so had Bob taken the lists as claimed, then Bob would have“divulged private and confidential information to a third party” to be fed into a computer dialling software system.

    The names, addresses and phone numbers are that of the employees of the Toronto Transit Commission and are given by the TTC to ATU local 113 strictly for purposes pertaining to internal use in the administration of its membership in matters solely related to the extent of the relationship between the TTC and it’s legally mandated Union ATU 113. The use of this data for any other purpose is a direct violation of one’s rights and a culpable offence.

    While I can’t speak for the other members, I assure you I treat this as a very serious violation of my “Privacy Rights” having unsavoury characters like Bob, and the others to whom he divulged information, to be in possession of my personal information is not only frightful but outrageous.

    The stake holders in this fiasco is solely the TTC and ATU Local 113 and therefore it is paramount that these two parties “immediately file an injunction” against Bob Kinnear and any and all other relevant parties to “cease and desist” the use of the employees personal information in the possession of these unauthorized parties before any further irreparable harm occurs.

    Common sense dictates, one does not close the barn door after the horse has left the barn, further this pumped horse is still outside in the corral and must be tranquillized and roped in before he jumps the fence and causes any further damage to the membership at large.

    The prima facie pertaining to Bob’s actions is overwhelming thus the mere inconvenience of obtaining such an order should not be the order of the day.

    In self-incriminating statement’s Bob’s actions clearly, defines his intent with regard to the lists containing the personal data of our membership and fits the definition for “Commercial Purposes” a violation under, the “Personal Information Protection and Electronic Act”

    Extract on the application of the PIPEDA :-

    Unions’ duties under PIPEDA imposes requirements on every “organization” in respect of personal information that the organization collects, uses or discloses in the course of “commercial activities.” The term “organization” is defined so that it expressly includes a trade union. Therefore, the real question is whether the union is engaged in “commercial activities. There have been no authoritative decisions defining the term “commercial activities”, but PIPEDA defines the terms so that it includes any conduct of a “commercial character.” Most union activities – representing members in grievances and collective bargaining – are probably not of a commercial character. Therefore, PIPEDA does not necessarily apply to every aspect of a trade union’s activities. However, some of a trade union’s activities may likely by covered by PIPEDA. For example, if your union provides supplementary health insurance or manages a retirement fund, these could be considered commercial activities. Also, PIPEDA specifically states that bartering membership or other fundraising lists is a commercial activity. Therefore, if your union provides membership lists to other organizations, this may also be considered a commercial activity. The actual requirements in PIPEDA are based on the Canadian Standards Association model “Privacy Code” with certain amendments. PIPEDA requires an organization to: 1. Designate an individual or individuals accountable for the organization’s compliance with PIPEDA and its principles. 2. Prior to or at the point of collection, identify the purpose(s) for which personal information is collected and limit the collection, use or disclosure to what is necessary for that purpose. 3. Seek appropriate consent for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information. 4. Protect personal information in its possession in a manner appropriate to the sensitivity of the information (for instance, personal health information requires special safeguarding). 5. Keep personal information accurate for the purpose for which it is to be used.

    Based on factual observations in that Bob did “Robo Call” our membership, using information without the express consent of the membership and or the parties entrusted with and in possessions of this private and confidential information and taken by Bob is complacent with the long standing dictatorial and arbitral behaviour by Bob in the running of the Local.

    It would be very foolish for one to believe the reasons for Bob’s actions to be anything but for reasons of personal gain with a lucrative pay- off and patronage appointment if he was successful in his quest to move an almost 11,000 member Union.
    Warning operators:- “Do Not Attempt While Operating Moving Vehicle” One should do the math, union dues times its membership, the staggering result will make you keel over in shock as to why we have some sleazy characters in our Local Executive.

    While respecting the democratic vote of our membership in the election of Bob Kinnear I personally would not entrust or allow Bob to “walk my dog”

    The Local should be focussing on the long term ramifications of the actions of Bob Kinnear on the membership in that, the damage on our local perpetrated by Bob has far and reaching consequences. The possession and use of the membership’s private and confidential information by Bob can now be used by any individual or entity for fraudulent purposes and for further attempts to raid our Union.

    A well advised, deterrent for this type of rogue behaviour by an executive of our local should be a class action suit for punitive damages brought against Bob Kinnear and all others responsible for the unauthorised use of personal information. Approximate 11,000 members times $200/- per member plus legal costs would set back Bob and his band of merry conspirators into oblivion.

    The decision of the International office with regard to allowing Bob to re-run for office notably the answer to Question 2. in the insert of IN-TRANSIT Journal titled “Union democracy, due process, and Local 113’s election challenges” is not only mind boggling but will dazzle some of the “best Legal Minds in the country”
    By virtue of the contents, in the answer, here is an individual who not only was “in direct violation of the Local’s bylaws” but acted in every way possible to bully, rig, manipulate and defraud the election process and is rewarded with the ability to run again for office, are we for real? Now the same leaders are wondering why we are in this mess today, for those of you who have grey hair like me, Manuel Noriega and the Shah of Iran comes to mind, aid and abet as long as it benefits the status quo, then when this individual turns renegade we have the leadership running like chickens with their heads cut off.

    While been well versed on Pension Regulations applicable to Ontario, “Take the money and run” would definitely not be in my response.had I chose to address the long and complicated regulations.
    I will refrain from commenting at this time pending the response of brother Frank’s Lawyer.

    I don’t appreciate the spin on pension benefits been in peril, as then we feed into the exact dishonest and crooked behaviour perpetrated by Bob. However, I will give brother Frank the benefit of the doubt as he stated he has a good Lawyer probably the best in the city, no the province, maybe the country, I am eagerly awaiting this Lawyer’s response in an orderly time frame.

    Finally, it is imperative that the Local immediately amend its by-laws with regard to the “possession and use of private data by the Executive Members of ATU Local 113” we also should very seriously consider and have a membership vote on “Time Limits” for all Local Elected Positions. We must position ourselves to Act, not react, be active, not reactive.

    David Schokman
    Badge # 23641
    Dictated Not Read

    1. Very well said and put.
      Bob caused this beginning dissension with the last contract separate the drivers the collectors and the maintenance staff and do a three tier Union contract the writing was on the wall

  2. From the final paragraph:

    “Internal matters inside the ATU should be left to ATU members to sort out themselves.”

    A ringing refutation of the rest of this article.

    1. Thanks for that, now can you just help me convince myself that trusteeship and raiding count as internal matters?

  3. One of the clearest iterations of the justification process I have seen. A clear violation of the CLC Constitution by the President. Collaboration with his old union. Remember he ran on a platform of giving power to the members.

  4. Always know this- union infighting can be very complicated- and to truly get to the bottom of the truth and the facts is not an easy process. It would seem some effort was made above to get to such- but I will say my experience in our own local, national and all the executives involved with careers laying on the line- never take anything as a given and the story can be much more complicated than laid out above. I do not like some of the inferences and biases inferred into the mix- I am sure the intention is to help- but I am not sure this process is actually helping.

  5. I have never been a huge union guy wearing the union shirt or hat but I’ve always paid my union dues faithfully and supported and voted every chance I get. I find it a direct violation of my privacy when I received knob Bob’s Robocall. How dare he take my personal information that I interested in the union office that is an outright theft and a violation of my privacy. Unifor and Bob Kinnear can go away silent and I hope to goodness that Bob Kinnear is held to account 4 the absolute chaos that he is caused. It’s kind of funny he was all for the international when he ran and now he wants to separate and become part of an auto industry and hotel industry Union that has never cared about Transit. Makes me shake my head. Back off Bob and Unifor my 113 is not for sale.

  6. Congratulations, Rank & File. This kind of journalism is exactly what we need for workers to have the information they need. There is a lot of information here about who said or did what and when, and there’s just enough analysis to provide context that helps readers understand not just the narrow issue, but the wider issues all workers should be concerned about.

    You’ll never see something like this in the mainstream reporting!

  7. What a disturbing and unbalanced effort – one would almost suspect the writers had sympathies for these international union bureaucrats and their peculiar fondness for imposing martial law, whoops; meant to say ‘trusteeship’ of Canadian locals whenever there is any hint those unruly Canadian union members are becoming dissatisfied again.

    But of course David Bush was a former union organizer with the Service Employees International Union Local 2 and Doug Nesbitt is was also a former organizer with the same SEIU Local 2 – all after the attempt by those 8 Ontario SEIU Locals in 2000 to leave SEIU and merge with CAW-Canada. It would certainly have been a matter of integrity to disclose their obvious bias on these more recent events; assuming they have not renounced the legacy of their career taking orders from those appointed by Washington that opposed the right of Canadian SEIU members to decide their own destiny.

    1. I worked at the SEIU Local 2 from 2010 – 2013. We list that right on our website. I am currently a CUPE member. I was also a member of Unifor. I actually don’t particularly care about union tribalism, I am much more motivated by the concerns of the movement/workers as a whole, but if that is your thing go for it. But it might be nice to point out for our readers you have been CAW/Unifor National staff rep since 2001. The raiding wars we mentioned in the article happened long before I was around, they are the context of the CLC adopting the justification process in 2002. If you have specific issues or disagreements with the article have at it.

    2. What a bunch of laughable bullshit. Raiding is raiding. It doesn’t matter which flag the raider is wrapping themselves in.

      My SEIU Local 2 affiliations are listed on the website. I should also disclose I was a CAW member for 2.5 years, CUPE member for 2, and PSAC member for 5. All fully-Canadian unions.

    3. Thanks for the reality check, Corey. My 12,000 members on CN, CP, and VIA Rail freely voted to join the CAW in 1994, rather than the two other unions on the ballot (IAM and IBEW). Whining about “raiding” is just that. Workers are all grown up and mature. They can’t be “raided”. They can only be convinced. And they will follow those convictions, irrespective of the bureaucratic rules created by labour oligarchs aimed solely at protecting their revenue sources. Remind me to write a history of that epic struggle before it’s forgotten.

  8. All I know is that 113 has been at my back since 1984, they even checked records to show that the TTC had unfairly categorized me as disabled, and therefore unable to drive again, which was all changed thanks to the intervention of my union Rep. I am so very happy with all that 113 has done for me, and will always support them, even in these mixed up times. I am retired, and up to now, had been relaxed about my adequate pension, however, it makes me nervous to see the Union trying to keep itself together. I know they will win, they have it in their hearts, to be on the side of the members.


  9. Well that’s a high water mark for journalism – “raiding is raiding” and we’re going to write a story about raiding whether the facts support that approach or not. “We wrote that they will be visiting job sites and hoping to sign cards. We believe this was a reasonable interpretation of the facts as they were.” Sorry folks but that is a prediction, not an interpretation.

    So you write that “ATU represents 200,000 members in North America, with 30,000 members in Canada”, and with 2 Canadian on the ATU International Executive Board, that would be representation at just under 9,000 members for each American and 15,000 for each Canadian. And then only this year, the ATU permitted Canadian members to elect the Canadians representing them at the International. I hope they get to meet in Canada for that purpose and not in some northern caucus during the US convention. Such progress – but of course Larry Hanley is a progressive, much as one would assume, Andy Stern of SEIU was considered in his time.

    What I find disturbing in this story are the undue reliance on the hastily drafted ATU International talking points and the presumption of guilt without any material fact of Unifor. Admittedly, there is circumstantial evidence – is there anywhere else that aggrieved Canadian union members would turn in defiance of their Washington International than Unifor? What about the support the CAW provided when COPE separated from the OPEIU to become an autonomous Canadian union? Was that also ‘raiding’?

    There certainly wasn’t anywhere more welcoming in 2000 for the 20,000 healthcare workers in Ontario than the CAW as one of the predecessor unions that merged to create Unifor. Not into that ‘union tribalism’ thing, are you but more inclined to building a strong, rank-and-file membership driven and democratic union. So were those 20,000 healthcare workers from SEIU (of which I was part) and in 2013 so were the members of CEP and CAW in merging to create Unifor. I subscribe to the view that Canadian union members have a fundamental right of self-determination – and international unions are but a quirk of history and an oddity caused by geography, having been a member of a couple of them myself.

    Trusteeship is the union equivalent of martial law. Therefore the argument that “internal matters inside the ATU should be left to ATU members to sort out themselves”, at the very moment figuratively, the army is in the streets; when the democratic right to decide these internal matters has been simply usurped by the trusteeship imposed by the International in denying members those fundamental rights, is but hypocrisy or hyperbole and a disservice to Canadian workers.

    1. Sorry, but the facts of the story just don’t support your rant. The Kinnear was the only person to file a 4.9a justification. He had been speaking to Unifor before he did that (there is both documented evidence and we have confirmation from independent sources). No member or group of members files the claim, just the elected president. He did so without getting the executive board approval. He did so without discussing it with members, let alone getting them to vote on it. Like where and who are the members in ATU local 113 that want to join Unifor? He then sat in press conference with Dias who said he wanted to organize those members. The CLC suspended the anti-raiding protection for the local for 7 days (and the justification process) they then reversed themselves because of new facts and pressure from every other union. There will be an hearing on trusteeship within the next couple of days. It is patently ridiculous to pretend that all that didn’t happen. Pretending the facts don’t exist tends not to be a strong argument.

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  11. Please define your use of the expression ‘rant’. Is a ‘rant’ a useful derogatory term when you run short of facts or analysis? Why not let readers access the Unifor press conference themselves at
    to determine if Jerry Dias said “he wanted to organize those members”. I hear him challenge the ATU to allow Local 113 members their democratic right a vote to determine their own future – rather than placing the Local under trusteeship. I hear him say he is pledging that Unifor will stand beside Local 113 members. But others can listen and draw their own conclusions to judge themselves. I find it quite disappointing that anyone claiming to provide factual and informative labour news; or helping to build solidarity for workers in our struggle to develop a coherent analysis of the labour movement would take such a one-sided and stilted approach to the ATU trusteeship – a critical issue for Canadian union members.

  12. Is it just sloppy journalism or writing with a vengeance. Your story refers to “Chris MacDonald, a former Unifor staffer and now CLC assistant to Yussuff”, but a simple fact check would reveal that Chris MacDonald was never a Unifor member nor on staff at Unifor.
    In fact, after serving as president of a large local representing Bell CEP members, he served as Ontario Region Director for the CLC prior to a stint with the Canadian Media Guild – affiliated with the Communication Workers of America – as their Western Canada Rep (while Unifor was being formed) and before he returned to the CLC as an Assistant.
    If you are building your argument relying on ‘guilt by association’, at least get the ‘association’ part right.

    1. Guilt by association? Oh you mean like saying the article is wrong because two of the authors used to work for the SEIU? His past workplace experience was listed on his FB page, Not saying he didn’t work anywhere else. We are saying it was highly unusual for the CLC to speak out publicly in the manner it did. And as for the video we strongly urge people to watch it, hence why we linked to it in our post – funny how you missed that. We reported the facts, used documentary evidence, used multiple sources from all the parties involved and from that told a story and have an opinion we stand behind. Obviously you are partisan and do not like the piece.

  13. So let’s take stock of the events you claim to be reporting about – “ATU Trusteeship, Unifor Raid, CLC Crisis” – we know that Local 113 is under trusteeship and any semblance of local membership democracy vanquished; whether the CLC is actually in crisis is most certainly a debatable point; and the purported Unifor ‘raid’ hasn’t any actual material basis in fact.

    Not that you are partisans of course or intended to transform the news about the “imposed trusteeship by a U.S. based international union” into a quaint “story of CLC-sanctioned raiding and inter-union power politics”. The CLC would be in crisis if the Dispute Procedure provisions under its constitution permitting workers to apply for justification are effectively trumped by international trusteeship and charges of raiding.

    By the way, I claim the piece to be a “disturbing and unbalanced effort” and ask readers to draw their own conclusion around the influence that the background as SEIU staff organizers (disclosed elsewhere on this website but not in the article) that David Bush and Doug Nesbitt could bring to their journalism about ‘raiding’. And I disclose that I was also on staff with SEIU (albeit in another era).

  14. Pingback: Bob Kinnear, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and the History of Canadian-American Labour Relations –

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