Toronto – Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas expressed his deep concern today over Unifor’s recent decision to leave the Canadian Labour Congress and offered to work with the two sides to help them resolve their differences.
The dispute centres on Unifor’s contentious disagreement with a section of the CLC’s constitution that governs the process in which workers can switch unions, but Thomas warned the ripples created could cause harm at every level of the Canadian labour movement.
"I am calling on all leaders to park their grievances, table their differences and figure out a way to reach consensus," Thomas said in a statement to OPSEU members.
"In peril there is opportunity and as with most crisis, collectively we have the chance to take something great and make it even better."
OPSEU is a member of the National Union of Public and General Employees and is in turn affiliated with the CLC, which was formed in 1956 in order to provide a national voice to unions across Canada. The CLC has 3.3 million members.
Thomas was contacted last week by Unifor President Jerry Dias and also had discussions with CLC President Hassan Yussuff and was encouraged by the willingness to try to work out a compromise.
He noted that Unifor has some valid concerns about the state of the Canadian labour movement that deserve to be heard, but he called on Dias to first commit to cease any and all future plans for raiding.
Unifor has launched an attempt to take over the representation of members of UNITE HERE Local 75, which represents hospitality workers in the Greater Toronto Area.
Thomas offered to continue discussions with the leadership of the CLC and Unifor.
"We owe it to working people across the country to resolve this disagreement and keep a united front in confronting the corporate leaders who are constantly trying to take away the rights we have fought so hard to win," Thomas said.
"It would be tragic to let this disagreement distract us at a time when working people need strong unions more than ever," Thomas said.
For more information: OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931