August 1, 2006
Union local asks for new nominations
A ruling by the Washington-based headquarters of the Laborers International Union of North America throwing out a slate of delegates loyal to ousted Local 183 leader Tony Dionisio infringes on the Ontario Labour Relations Board’s jurisdiction, the legal counsel acting for the delegates claims.
Tomorrow at the OLRB, Brian Shell will pick up his arguments to demand that the LIUNA-appointed trustee at Local 183 convene an election of a new executive as soon as possible and overrule the July 26 decision of the elections officer that negated the nomination of 91 convention delegates — the majority of whom were pro-Dionisio.
The day-long hearing will focus on arguments from both sides: Shell also wants the firing of pro-Dionisio supporters overturned and a timetable for elections of a new executive that could well see Dionisio and his executive returned to power.
LIUNA’s lawyer Gary Caroline will argue the union needs time to investigate the state of affairs further because records have been shredded and that, in any event, both the convention delegates and executive election are private internal matters.
He says making a timetable for the executive elections public could hurt LIUNA because collective agreement negotiations begin this fall and there are other unions and locals looking to raid the Local 183 membership during this period of turmoil.
Caroline also says the election of delegates to the September Convention is wholly a matter for LIUNA to deal with.
Shell has long maintained the battle for control of Local 183 stems from a political power play.
Dionisio planned to put up a slate of delegates to challenge LIUNA vice president and regional manager of Canada, Joseph Mancinelli, at the convention.
“Their investigation was the Spanish Inquisition by way of Iraq brought in to Canada,” fumed Shell, reacting to the report.
“They went and interviewed people and heard testimony which we weren’t able to rebut.”
In any event, said Shell, picking up on an argument he made in submissions to LIUNA elections officer Joseph Guerrieri in Washington, the issue of the delegates nomination May 9 is a matter for the OLRB to rule on.
“The jurisdiction is the OLRB,” he said.
Shell dismissed claims that up to one third of the Local 183 membership were denied an opportunity to vote at the May 9 nomination meeting because their address of record was invalid.
The Guerrieri report noted some 6,000 of 25,000 mailed notices of the election were returned because the addresses were incorrect. It also said that only a handful of pro-Dionisio members attended the meeting and that others were afraid to go because they feared physical reprisals if they challenged the status-quo.
It called the situation “woeful” and “interolerable.”
“In any given year, one third of Canadians move and change their address,” said Shell.
“That 30 per cent of the membership didn’t have correct addresses is not uncommon. Labour unions are notorious for not being able to track their members. It’s incumbent on the members to keep their address current.”
Guerrieri’s report noted that since trusteeship had already been recommended by two investigations and reports, the May 9 nomination of delegates had been ordered cancelled, but that Dionisio and his executive defied the directive and went ahead anyway.
Noting that conditions at Local 183 “of reprisal and intimidation preclude starting an election process of delegates with any likelihood that the ousted officers will not again resort to improper methods to regain power” the report ordered the delegates struck off and for trustee Rick Weiss to appoint a slate to ensure the “democratic process.”
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