TORONTO—Longtime Canadian union leader, Sid Ryan, will not be seeking re-election as president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
“What I do next, what issues I champion, what challenges I tackle, has yet to be determined, but I will not be leading Ontario’s House of Labour,” Ryan said in an open letter published by the Toronto Star.
Ryan served as president of the OFL for the past six years and sat at the helm of CUPE for 17 years prior to that.
“At no point in my career have I made life easy or comfortable for the powerful. I have refused to compromise progressive principles for political expediency. I have preferred to wage the working class fight — both inside and outside our movement — on the ground with the members,” said in the letter.
Recently, however, the labour leader has accumulated a significant number of critics, including many within unions across Ontario. Some unions have gone so far to withhold dues, calling for Ryan to resign. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the Ontario Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union are several examples. Recently, Unifor’s Jerry Dias was among the more prominent critics of the OFL chief’s leadership.
In stepping from the hot seat, Ryan called on union leaders to live up to their criticism.
“Some of the labour leaders who have opposed me have said that they share my working class values but they can’t unite behind my leadership,” he said in the letter.
“Today, I am issuing a challenge to these labour leaders to live up to their words: build an open and progressive labour movement that puts equity and social justice at its core, even when doing the right thing is unpopular.”