Canadian Manufacturing

Former Unifor president accepted $50,000 in kickbacks, union alleges

The allegations have unfolded as Dias neared a decade at the helm of the union, which represents about 315,000 workers, and come as he faces health issues.

March 24, 2022   The Canadian Press

Canada’s largest private sector union alleged on Mar. 23 that its former national president Jerry Dias accepted $50,000 from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid test kits he promoted to employers of union members, several of whom purchased those test kits.

Unifor national secretary-treasurer Lana Payne said at a press conference on Mar. 23 that Dias is being charged with violating the code of ethics and democratic practices of the union’s constitution after an internal investigation.

“What you’re about to hear will be distressing, but I remind you all that no one member is above our constitution, not the highest ranking elected officers, no one,” Payne said. “We are all equal under that constitution.”

She announced Dias will now be subject to a hearing hosted by the union’s executive board as soon as April, which could result in his Unifor membership being suspended temporarily or permanently.

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The allegations Unifor levelled have cast a shadow on Dias, once their tough-talking and scrappy leader, who has sparred with everyone from automakers to politicians in a bid to secure better job security, benefits and rights for workers.

The allegations have unfolded as Dias neared a decade at the helm of the union, which represents about 315,000 workers, and come as he faces health issues.

The union alleged that at some point before Jan. 20, Dias accepted $50,000 from a COVID-19 test kit supplier, which Payne declined to name and said was not a participant in the union’s investigation because the company does not employ any Unifor members.

Payne said Dias then gave a Unifor employee what he said was half of those funds, $25,000, on Jan. 20, telling the employee that it had come from the supplier. The employee subsequently filed a complaint under the Unifor code of ethics and delivered the money to Payne.

Unifor would also not identify companies who bought the kits or say how many purchases might have been made because of recommendations from Dias.

No other union members are under investigation in connection with this matter, she said.


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