By David Bush and Gerard Di Trolio
On Wednesday of this week RankandFile.ca obtained a recording of a conversation between two executive board members at ATU Local 113, Tony Barbosa and John DiNino, occurring before the trusteeship. Both DiNino, who recorded the call, and Barbosa have confirmed the authenticity of the recording.
In this conversation recorded on January 31, we get a glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes at Local 113 just prior to ATU International trusteeship.
While RankandFile.ca was working on a story about this new information, the audio recording was posted on the internet and made publicly available by an unknown source.
The 30 minute conversation between DiNino and Barbosa sheds light on the crisis unfolding at Local 113. While the recording is not itself proof of raiding or a conspiracy, it does raise numerous questions about the reasons for the trusteeship, the actions of Unifor, the CLC and Bob Kinnear.
In the recording Barbosa outlines to DiNino what he believes is happening at ATU Local 113 based on his discussion with Bob Kinnear.
Barbosa describes the impending trusteeship, how Kinnear will respond, and the involvement of both Unifor and the CLC.
He predicts the trusteeship of Local 113 based on Kinnear’s February 1 letter to the CLC initiating the justification process. He states that the letter will force ATU International to trustee the Local and that this will play into Kinnear’s hands.
Barbosa lays out how Kinnear will then respond to the trusteeship: by holding a press conference claiming he wants the members to decide. He then states:
“And then it’s done, buddy, and then all of a sudden some other guy’s gonna appear, ‘oh yeah I’m hear to save the day’. Maybe it’s [inaudible] he’s going to fuckin jump in there and everything is going to get fuckin “I’m here to save you guys don’t worry.”
When asked by DiNino who the other person is, Barbosa states:
“Yeah, its hey listen, it’s it’s it’s the shark buddy. You understand when the shark comes in and swims, buddy, and it’s just right now, the shark … the shark’s already been on the property buddy but right now the shark’s just swimming around. It’s … it’s very big, buddy. It’s the biggest you’ve ever … it’s the biggest one around, buddy, for sure.”
Later in the conversation Barbosa further clarifies who he thinks “the shark” is:
DiNino: So, who’s the big white shark? Is it UNIFOR?
Barbosa: Yeah, of course, buddy. Who do you think the shark is, buddy?
DiNino: It’s gotta be. I mean they’re the biggest ones, right?
Barbosa: Yeah, of course, and now listen. They want this thing to go through. Think about what’s happening, John. These guys are in the process of swallowing the Metrolinx union, right?
Barbosa also claims that “the shark” has already been on the property and that literature promoting disaffiliation have been made. He also outlines how the CLC will respond.
Barbosa: If he [ATU International President Larry Hanley] reacts, they’re gonna trustee the local and then everything is open. Every ATU location across Canada is open. And then he’s gonna lose all of it.
DiNino: How do they become open?
Barbosa: Because it’s all affiliated with the CLC and the CLC is gonna pull the affiliation from the ATU.
Barbosa suggests the context for breaking with the ATU and joining “the shark” is the possibility that one union could represent TTC and Metrolinx workers under a set of Liberal governments which it has a cozy relationship with. He claims — and we have no evidence to support this — that politicians like Kathleen Wynne and John Tory had advanced knowledge about Local 113 leaving ATU.
He also argues that the ATU will no longer be interested in its affiliates in Hamilton and Mississauga if Toronto leaves, and returns to his suggestion that Unifor wants membership of all GTA transit workers.
Barbosa further suggests to DiNino that there will still be some sort of position for him if he supports leaving ATU.
Barbosa’s predictions, although remarkably accurate, turn out to be wrong on how other Local 113 executive board members reacted. Most of executive board members and shop stewards came out against Kinnear’s action.
In a meeting on January 30, DiNino says that Barbosa alluded to a potential bombshell that is going to be dropped about the future of the union and that Barbosa was going to tell him about it later. He says that this prompted him to record his call with Barbosa the next evening. He came out with the recording because he says he took an oath to serve and protect members.
“It is important for the membership to know that this was an orchestrated premeditated attack on our union. Our members need to know the truth and there are representatives that still care about them,” says DiNino.
Barbosa, who after the trusteeship, was reinstated on February 7 has subsequently resigned from his position on the executive board.
So what can we make of this recording? It is not proof of a raid or a conspiracy involving Kinnear, Unifor or the CLC. But when put together with the other documented evidence and the how the story has unfolded thus far it does point to something very amiss. It does raise serious questions about the conduct of all those involved. If this is simply idle chatter between executive board members, then why do many of the detailed predictions of Babrosa, made days before the trusteeship, come to pass?
As members of ATU Local 113 grapple with the future of their union, they must insist on full disclosure from all the parties involved. The consequences of the ATU Local 113 crisis could have a major impact on labour’s future. Let us hope that it turns out to be a positive one where union members’ voices and democratic procedures take precedence over backroom deals.