When you take on Unifor, whether government or an employer, you can expect a fight, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in his opening address the Unifor Constitutional Convention today.
“Unifor is not getting pushed around. Not now. Not ever,” Dias said as the convention began in Quebec City.
“There will be a fight, I can promise you that - and if what we did forces employers to take a pause, to take a step back, and think twice before attacking our members, then that’s a victory for this union. That’s a victory for all workers.”
Across Canada, employers and governments have learned that lesson as Unifor has mobilized members, staff and entire communities when the interests of workers are challenged.
And we haven’t been shy about it, Dias said.
In Gander, Unifor sparked some controversy with a video naming and shaming scabs at DJ Composites, where workers were locked out for almost two years. Some people told Unifor they were outraged by the video.
“Let me tell you what’s outrageous. Twenty-one months on the picket line. Scabs doing our work. Scabs dragging this out. Scabs keeping food off our members tables,” Dias said.
“You know what’s outrageous? A government that sat and twiddled their thumbs, while workers suffered.”
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador wasn’t the only one to sit on its hands while workers and communities were threatened. In Ontario, Dias said. Premier Doug Ford was ready give up when GM said it planned to shut its Oshawa assembly plant.
“Big, tough-talking Doug Ford, threw in the towel on GM even before he stepped in the ring,” Dias said. “In less than 24 hours, the premier threw up his hands, saying – and I quote – ‘The ship has left the dock.’”
Ford might let corporations roll right over him, but Unifor never will, Dias said.
Whether it’s long-term care facilities undercutting the services and the wages of its workers, a salt mine or a doctor’s office taking a hard stand on negotiations, a rich grocery store chain cutting hours while taking government subsidies, Conservative governments in Alberta and elsewhere attacking the rights of workers, the search for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, trade deals, and more, Unifor will not only fight hard, Dias said, we will show others how it’s done.
“We bargain. We fight. We don’t back down. We do whatever it takes,” Dias said.