By on March 14, 2022

Jerry Dias, the man who’s been at the helm of Unifor in Canada since its inception, has chosen to retire because of health reasons. On medical leave since last month, Dias announced his decision in a statement yesterday.

Unifor, in case you’re wondering why we’re covering this on a car site, represents about 40,000 workers in the Canadian auto industry and was formed out of a merger between the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada in 2013.

Dias was perpetually at the fore of communications when it came to auto manufacturing north of the border. He and the Unifor team led the charge to secure production at a General Motors facility in Oshawa, Ontario after GM announced the building of new cars at Oshawa would wind down in 2019 and cease by the end of that year. Instead of the planned stamping work and test track for autonomous tech, the facility started making full-size pickups. The first truck from that deal popped off the line in mid-November last year.

The big boss had previously announced his intentions to retire this coming August, following his third term as national president. He then said in February, via Twitter, that he was taking some time off to “deal with some health issues” and expressed confidence in his team to lead the shop in his absence. With the August date on the horizon, two union members have already announced their bids to campaign for the national presidency. That effort will presumably be expedited following this earlier-than-expected retirement, with the National Executive Board meeting on March 21 to determine the next steps.

Canada’s auto manufacturing industry has, like its cousins around the world, had its share of ups and downs. In addition to a variety of supporting players, companies such as Ford, GM, Honda, Stellantis, and Toyota all make products or parts in the Great White North. Not all of these workers are represented by Unifor. In terms of volume, Canadian sales run at about a tenth of America, a figure which roughly aligns with our populations if not our landmasses. This explains why the two countries are so closely linked in terms of product. Still, there are occasions when regional preferences take over, showing up in the form of unique trim packages for the hosers or – not often, but sometimes – entirely different models.

Unifor represents over 300,000 workers in Canada with about 12 percent of those people toiling either in auto assembly, parts, or vehicle dealerships.

[Image: Unifor, Twitter]

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15 Comments on “Canadian Union Boss Retires, Cites Health Issues...”

  • avatar

    Union boss retires “due to health issues.” I thought the main cause of “health issues” of certain union bosses involves a sudden lack of breathing and brain activity due to a surprise visit by unannounced visitors.

    Ah well, enjoy your retirements and I’m pretty sure there are some places in the Yukon where one can go and not have unexpected and sudden “health issues.”

    • 0 avatar

      “They” are still hunting for Hoffa. Union bashing tends to be a bigger issue south of the 49th parallel.

      • 0 avatar

        Who is “they”, the Feds? I doubt they care at this point, nearly everyone is dead who would have been involved.

        • 0 avatar

          @28-Cars-Later – I used “they” because it can be anyone. Mass media, police whomever. Hoffa falls from the collective consciousness then all of a sudden someone claims to know where the body happens to be buried.

          My guess is that he ended up in a thousand cans of Alpo.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Lou, ‘those who were involved’ are now largely gone. However there are still some who ‘know’.

    • 0 avatar

      Either that, or financial/moral scandal that is due to be in the news soon.

      • 0 avatar

        @RedRocket – Diaz appears to have run a clean ship. If there is a scandal looming, they don’t tend to cite health reasons. “Spend more time with family” is the typical metaphor for pre-scandal resignation.

      • 0 avatar

        @RedRocket – looks like you called it, “Jerry Dias — the longtime head of Canada’s largest private sector union who retired just days ago — has been under investigation since the end of January for allegedly breaching his union’s constitution.”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Many years ago Jerry was a teammate on that most Canadian of activities, adult/beer league hockey.

    Wishing him all the best.

    Regardless of your political leanings, you have to give Jerry credit for his fight to keep a GM presence in Oshawa. We didn’t think that he would be able to do it, but we were wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      Regardless of political stripe, I’m always a little saddened to hear about retirements for this reason. I hope his health improves and he’s able to enjoy many good years of retirement.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agree with both of you.

      My father passed many years ago at 64; he never even got to retire. At least some retirement should be enjoyable.

  • avatar


    I raise an Elsinore to the Bod and Doug reference.

    A buddy and I were travelling through the the west coast of the USA at peak “Great White North”. The “eh” stuff got annoying. We met up with a couple of midwestern girls who teased us about it. We were at a food kiosk in California and they asked the staff about our accents. We laughed when the staff pointed out their strong accents.

  • avatar

    Uh oh…. The Detroit News is confirming the investigation…

  • avatar

    CBC reported the investigation yesterday. For breaching the union constitution. I wonder what happened?

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