By on March 14, 2019

Ontario Labor Relations Board Chairman Bernard Fishbein recently ruled that Unifor’s actions over the winter were illegal under the province’s Labor Relations Act, stipulating that the union must “cease and desist from engaging in, authorizing or counseling unlawful strikes or engaging in any act that is likely to cause employees at the Inteva, Lear or GM plant (or any other supplier of the GM plant) or any employees having notice of this decision to engage in any unlawful strike.”

However, Unifor President Jerry Dias says the board’s finding that the union engaged in unlawful strikes against General Motors and its suppliers will not stop its workers from walking off the job in the future. 

Officially, Unifor has complied by not conducting any strike action since early February. But Dias wants to make it clear that the demonstrations that began last November to keep Oshawa Assembly running would not be stopped by the government, according to Automotive News.

“This is an issue that will be settled at the bargaining table, not in the courtroom,” Dias said. “So if anybody thinks I’m intimidated by it, I’m not. If I think about the number of injunctions I’ve had since last year, I could wallpaper an entire room with it.”

From Automotive News:

Unifor’s actions have raised the ire of General Motors Canada, which has said the automaker’s decision is final and has urged the union to work with it to find soon-to-be displaced workers new jobs. GM Canada has taken to social media to respond to the union’s claims and has said many of Unifor’s talking points are misleading or false, including the notion that Oshawa jobs are moving to Mexico.

GM intends to end production at Oshawa as part of a larger restructuring plan. The factory, which employs about 2,600 unionized workers, builds the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans. It also does final assembly on previous-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup bodies shipped from the United States.

Currently, Unifor seems content to hold public rallies operating outside the realm of a traditional strike. But its leadership has repeatedly said that striking will be a part of its collective bargaining strategy against GM. Still, there has yet to be a general strike and recent reports from Reuters make it seem as if the union lacks support. Unifor represents 2,600 GM workers in Oshawa and 1,800 workers at plants supplying its operations. That leaves an additional 1,500 workers without union backing that aren’t particularly interested in seeing strikes.

“We’re working in the GM plant, but we’re not GM,” said Sheri Steel, a forklift driver at CEVA Logistics. “Whenever GM shuts down, we do too. We get sent home and we lose pay.”

[Image: BobNoah/Shutterstock]

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19 Comments on “Unifor Head Says Labor Board Ruling Won’t Stop a Future Strike...”

  • avatar

    Overseer needs a new plantation.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    With that kind of bully talk, these guys wonder why the transplants, Tesla, and their workers don’t want them around.

    Pay a fair wage and benefits, comply with applicable laws and safety requirements, and no union is required. In exchange, workers don’t have their wages taxed by a union whose leaders are enriched by dues, and whose jobs are the only ones truly protected.

    • 0 avatar

      Just as Dofasco used to, the transplants make sure they offer pay and benefits comparable to what unionized workers (UAW/Unifor, in this case)get, and that they intend to keep it that way. If workers know that they’ll get whatever the UAW negotiates for is members, they’ll generally be happy to avoid unionizing and piggyback on the achievements of UAW/Unifor.

      In fairness, the transplants were greatly helped by the fact that they didn’t build there North American plants until the D3 had been unionized for decades, so they had this model waiting for them.

  • avatar

    Guy’s got great hair….was he in the Sopranos?

  • avatar

    Sounds like Unifor is about to make it easy for GM to simply abandon the plants.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree, might give a GM an incentive to close the plant sooner since the Impala and XTS are being discontinued anyway. GM might also be ready to discontinue the old model Silverados and Sierras by then.

  • avatar

    Anyone know what the work rules are like in a UAW plant? I have read that the non-union transplants are more flexible in what an employee can do.

    When I was independent I landed a gig doing electronic design at a defense company; they in turn sent me on 3 month TDY to a different plant with 5 union locals. Just one of many examples….To change an electronic component a union contract dictated only the technician assigned to your project was allowed to touch a soldering iron. One time it took two days for the mope to show up. He didn’t give a chitt and made damn sure I knew it. Two days doing nothing except racking up billable hours + per diem + motel. Be seen doing it yourself out of frustration and get hauled before a grievance committee; the tech who didn’t show up got a bonus for the work he didn’t do. It was also a “cost plus” contract for the government so they just passed it through. I refused a contract extension and found work elsewhere. Now you know why a hammer can cost $700.

    • 0 avatar

      I worked at 2 GM plants. Both UAW. Your story is the same as my experience. Some, work harder at screwing ‘the man’ than doing their very well paid jobs.

      I avoid spending my $ in supporting this scum.

      PS- Toilet. Gen’l Assm. Dept 2nd story. GMAD Doraville. 1998.
      “No Eating on the Toilets.’ True story.

      • 0 avatar

        I was hesitant to post that experience, thought people would say “naw, gotta be BS, just a hater making chitt up”. But things like that are so ludicrous it burns itself into your memory and typing it was like having a flashback. That plant had one cash cow product that was carrying the whole place and that product was nearing end-of-life. The product I was working on was in design when it was transferred to keep the lights on. In short I was helping them keep their jobs.

        The engineers were in two locals and they were sympathetic to my plight. It was the technicians and facilities staff (each had their own militant union) that referred to me as “scab labor”. If you needed something moved from one room to another you could do it if you could lift *and carry* it (there’s a loophole) with one hand. If not you had to schedule a move with “Facilities” to move it for you. I needed to have a lab set up to do my work and start training the technicians that would rather see me dead. Pleas to get yer a$$ over here and get it done were laughed at. “We’ll do it when we feel like it so STFU”.

        One of the engineers who hated the closed shop status educated me on the work rules. I would put test equipment on wheeled chairs and push it down the hallway. That was met with cold stares; they felt I was fcking with them which of course was true. Another engineer hired in like I was, was a tough-as-nails expat Russian Jew with zero tolerance for BS. He said unions didn’t scare him because he survived the world’s biggest union (Soviet Union). One day he blew up and said “then we’ll do it our fcking selves”. I knew it would be trouble but I no longer cared. So the two of us stayed late to finish the setup; we moved tables, benches, a few cabinets and all the equipment for the lab after *everyone* went home at the exact minute their rules-mandated work day ended. What we did was discovered the next day (how could it not) and a cavalcade of shop stewards came up to check it out. There was a lot of yelling but no one could prove we did it. At least management ran interference for that as they were facing a deadline and cost overrun. Needless to say we had bulls-eyes on our backs after those stunts.

        People sometimes wonder what made me vow to never work union.

        There’s your answer.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s hard to have any sympathy for unions when you hear those stories.

      I don’t have any strong opinions on unions, but my mother was part of a union as a nurse so my impression of such things growing up was what I heard from her: that they exist to protect the jobs of the lazy and incompetent.

  • avatar

    Literally impossible to root for this guy.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Yow! When a labor-friendly province like Ontraio says you’ve gone too far, they you’ve REALLY gone too far!

    Jerry Dias is hastening the extinction of his own constituency. Do you really think GM is ever going to trust the Oshawa plant with any of their important products ever again? Not if they are the least bit sane!

  • avatar

    The examples above are reality in union plants. One can’t connect an air tool because on a “pipefitter” can do it. Connect it, and you’ll get your hand slapped, and the pipefitter will be paid OT.

    It is annoying. And it is a needless impediment to getting the job done, let alone competing with other plants that don’t have these stupid rules.

    On the other hand, look at the world. OUR world, not 50 years.

    CEOs are grossly overpaid, because they can be. People are greedy, and unchecked, they want more and more.

    The unions in general, and UAW in particular, obtained decent pay and benefits, which would not have been forthcoming otherwise.

    Globalization, and the willingness of North Americans and Europeans to buy less costly products made by people who could not afford to purchase the fruits of their labor, changed that.

    As others point out, the transplants use union compensation as a marker–and they don’t get too far from that to AVOID the hassle of a union.

    So all these workers in transplant facilities get a free ride from the UAW and Unifor.

    I make an effort to buy goods and services that are, first, local to me. I’m not 100%, but I’ll patronize my local hardware store, family owned, and NOT to Home Depot. Next, I try to buy things that are made in the USA first, or Canada next. I’m not 100% on that either. But I do my best, and I’ll pay more, to a point, for something made in the US or Canada, because I like living in the US. One of the things that make the US more liveable is an economy with many middle class people, vs a few overlords and all workers/slaves. Buying American will help keep it that way a little longer….

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree as well.

  • avatar

    The Canadian plants at least are no longer like the examples given above, they are much more flexible in their operation. Also almost everything I hear is that Dias not only doesn’t have a lot of support in our plant for his actions (yes there are a few radicals who think he is going about it the right way, but they are in the minority), I have also heard that he doesn’t even have the support of the majority of the Oshawa workers, they want him to be negotiating for their exit, as they don’t believe thatGM is going to change their minds either. Most0f us feel that if it was just Oshawa than it might have been a fight worth fighting, but with the US plants on the line too, the chance of winning is non-existent. All he is doing is putting over 4000 other GM jobs at risk to try and save the 2600 in Oshawa. I guess I am saying to not paint all GM workers ( or even the majority) with the same brush. Oh, and the management that wanted to transfer to our plant from Oshawa is mostly already here, so not likely they are going to turn around and go back to Oshawa, it isn’t going to stay open, time to try for the best deal he can for the workers affected by it, instead of wasting our dues on attacking the company that is paying us (and through us the Union).

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