Unifor publishes full investigation into former president Jerry Dias

Unifor plans to release the full investigation into its former president Jerry Dias, the Star has learned, amid the fallout of an alleged bribe scandal that is rocking Canada’s largest private sector union.

The documents will be “released to local unions as soon as possible,” Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne said in response to questions from the Star.

Dias is said to have received $50,000 from a rapid test provider he promoted to Unifor employers, according to an external report commissioned by the union earlier this year.

Dias then offered $25,000 to an assistant he had passed over for endorsement as his successor to the Unifor presidency. The assistant, Chris MacDonald, turned over the money to the union and filed an ethics complaint about Dias’s behavior.

Unifor has now referred the matter to the police. Unifor, which is committed to transparency, now says it will release a copy of the union-initiated inquiry — along with full minutes of relevant board meetings — to its 315,000 members across Canada.

Internal communications sent to Unifor staff last week and obtained by the Star said the report will be released to help members understand the “discussion and context” of board meetings since February, after the union received a complaint about Dias’ behavior.

Payne said that while Dias “does not need to be consulted” about the board’s decision, he was aware of the move to release the investigation.

But in a statement to the Star, Dias’s attorney Tom Curry said the union “had not contacted us about such a decision and would need to explain to its members why this confidential report on an internal matter would now be released.” .”

As previously reported by the Star, a psychiatric assessment of Dias at the time of the alleged kickback scandal said the union leader was under intense pressure and struggled with substance use issues, including using Percocet to treat an injury.

“Unifor prides itself on protecting its members from unfair examination procedures and the marginalization of those who suffer from mental health and addiction problems,” said Curry.

“If the National Governing Council releases this confidential report in the knowledge that Mr. Dias was dealing with mental health and addiction issues as it was being completed, many members will be shocked and disappointed by this break with the long-standing values ​​of the organization.”

It comes as Unifor faces its first contested election since Dias first became president when the union was founded in 2013.

Dias’s retirement had already led to plans for an emergency convention to select his replacement, which is currently scheduled for August.

The candidates include Dias’s former assistant Scott Doherty. Also seeking election are Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444 of Windsor, and Payne.

In June, several Unifor members complained that Payne had violated the union’s bylaws, claiming she had “abused her position” to make decisions that benefited her campaign.

The message sent to Unifor staff last week said the charges against Payne had been investigated by Unifor’s legal department and have now been “dismissed in their entirety” by the union’s board of directors.

“The complaints received did not reach the threshold of constitutional charges, so they were all dismissed by the National Board of Directors,” Payne told the Star. “I prevented myself from chairing this discussion and did not participate in the vote.”

Dias did not participate in the Unifor investigation into the charges against him, on the advice of forensic psychiatrist Jonathan Rootenberg, who said the former union chairman should not be allowed to participate “because of his current mental state”.

As a result, the Unifor investigation was “not credible,” Curry said.

“It appears it is being used to try to damage Jerry Dias’s legacy based on findings from a study in which he was unable to participate,” he said.

“Mr. Dias has always been guided by the principles of the Unifor Constitution. He would like to thank Unifor members for their continued support.”

The union has previously said it does not know what happened to Dias’s share of the $50,000 he allegedly received from an unnamed rapid test provider. The union told the Star that those funds were “never owned by Unifor”.

Unifor represents employees in nearly 30 industries, including media. Toronto Star unionized employees are represented by Unifor.

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