Unifor’s leadership team told staff at an internal meeting Thursday morning that they were still debating whether or not to make public the findings of a report into the conduct of former president Jerry Dias, according to sources who were present at the meeting.
Mr. Dias, a veteran union leader who was national president of Unifor for the past eight years, is being investigated by the union for allegedly breaching its constitution. Unifor announced on March 13 that Mr. Dias was retiring owing to health issues, but a day later it released a statement that he was being internally investigated following a complaint made against him in January.
The Globe and Mail is not identifying the sources because they are not authorized to speak publicly about internal affairs of the union.
According to the three sources, Lana Payne, Unifor’s secretary-treasurer, told union employees that the complaint against Mr. Dias was not financial in nature. Ms. Payne and members of the union’s national executive board had called the meeting to update staff on the status of the investigation into Mr. Dias. Staff were ultimately not told why Mr. Dias was being investigated and what the complaint against him was related to.
When some staff members questioned the leadership team about when or whether the report about Mr. Dias would be made available to members and employees of the union, as well as to the public, they were told that the leadership team was still deciding if it was prudent to do so. Certain union employees, the sources said, appeared frustrated about the lack of transparency from Unifor’s leadership regarding the investigation into Mr. Dias, and repeatedly pressed Ms. Payne to make public the findings of the investigation.
The sources also said that union leadership expressed annoyance at staff that an internal letter from Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, to Ms. Payne and other members of the national executive team about Mr. Dias’s investigation was leaked to The Globe.
The e-mail, dated Feb. 27, suggested that Mr. Dias was being investigated by the union, and an outside legal firm had been retained by Unifor to conduct the probe. The letter was written weeks after Mr. Dias went on medical leave. When The Globe questioned Unifor about the contents of the e-mail and whether it was accurate that Mr. Dias was being investigated, Unifor released a statement confirming that this was indeed the case.
The March 14 statement said that Mr. Dias was notified of a continuing investigation against him on Jan. 29, just a week before he went on medical leave. On March 11, Mr. Dias told the executive team that he would be retiring immediately. The statement also said that Unifor’s national executive board would meet on March 21 to discuss the investigation and that the union would not be publicly commenting on the issue prior to the receipt of the report.
In response to questions about Thursday’s staff meeting, Unifor told The Globe that it would not comment until the investigation was complete.
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