April 26, 2007
LIUNA asks for trustee extension
The Labourers International Union of North America has asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board for a six-month extension of trusteeship over Local 183, citing a convergence of issues which it says will “disrupt” elections if they are forced to be held now.
In a letter to the OLRB, LIUNA’s lawyers Robert Gibson and Benjamin Barnes say the continued pressure Local 183 faces from the breakaway union — the Canadian Construction Workers Union — as it tries to lure members away during the critical open season bargaining period means resources are stretched thin.
In wording that raises questions around LIUNA’s public stance on the CCWU and former Local 183 manager Tony Dionisio’s efforts to create a new entity, the letter calls the new union a “significant threat.”
In public statements, LIUNA officials have previously said they aren’t worried about the CCWU and that few if any Local 183 members have signed.
“In fact, the CCWU has filed and is continuing to file applications for certification seeking to displace Local 183 as bargaining agent,” the letter states.
“CCWU’s representatives are engaged in an ongoing campaign to obtain membership support to file further applications for displacement.
“Since the beginning of the open period, Local 183 has been distracted from achieving the purposes for which the trusteeship was imposed because of the need to respond to the clear and substantial external threat posed by the CCWU.
“Local 183 has been on a war footing for months.”
The letter also says as of April 20, “no collective agreements have been signed” and as a result, all Local 183 resources are deployed in an effort to nail down those contracts.
Furthermore, the letter continues, a new Chief Financial Officer is trying to implement a computer management system and will require more time beyond the June 12 anniversary of the imposition of trusteeship.
It also claims the records left by the outgoing executive under Dionisio were left shredded and in disarray.
“It would be inappropriate to conduct a local union election at a time when the attention of the local union ought to be concentrated on the renewal collective agreement process.
“Scheduling local union elections to take place while the entirety of Local 183’s collective agreements are in the midst of renewal runs a very serious risk of distracting the local from negotiations, destabilizing the construction industry and interfering and politicizing the renewal process.”
It wants the OLRB to extend the trusteeship to Dec. 13 2007.
The letter and request brought a dismissive stream from Dionisio, who noted he was under similar pressures in 2004.
“I had the International breathing down my back; we had asked the membership for permission to conduct a forensic audit because the Hamilton Spectator had published a story suggesting there was corruption at Local 183 and we had 15 photocopiers going 12 days straight to copy all the documents they wanted because they wanted everything like, yesterday,” he said.
“We were being raided ourselves by the carpenters and we were in negotiations and we still managed to hold elections.”
He said the delay in holding elections only prolongs the dark cloud over Local 183.
“How much more BS are they going to feed the membership?” he said. “When I saw that, it made me want to puke.”
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