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April 30, 2007

Amend Bill 80: Dionisio to McGuinty

Law restricts locals from leaving parent unions

TORONTO

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty must make good on a campaign promise to allow construction unions to break free of their U.S. parents, says former Labourers’ International Union of North America Local 183 manager Tony Dionisio.

The ousted leader, currently embroiled in a raiding war to poach members from the local he built into a powerhouse to the breakaway Canadian Construction Workers Union, appeals to McGuinty in a letter released to Daily Commercial News.

“Construction workers in Ontario have neither independence nor the means to acquire it,” he writes.

“With the exception now being our new organization, the CCWU, the men and women in Ontario’s construction industry are governed by another country — the U.S.”

Dionisio calls on McGuinty to make good on a commitment to protect unionized members against “heavy-handed actions by Washington-based international unions.”

He wants McGuinty to amend Bill 80 which enacted changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act in 1993.

In those changes is a clause governing the relationship between Ontario constructions unions and their U.S. parent organization which restricts the locals from breaking away.

Tony Dionisio

“The case of Local 183 is by now well known, and highly inflammatory,” Dionisio writes. “Yet it is also a case of local Canadian leadership being subjected to biased internal proceedings because we dared to stand up to Washington on behalf of our members. The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), with limited resources and legislative restrictions, relied primarily on a highly controversial internal union decision.

“Having any organization dictating the scope of its own inquiry while appointing the prosecutor, judge and the law governing them, it is a far cry from independence.”

He said the restrictions of the Act reduce Canadian locals to little more than a “colony” of their U.S. parents.

“Democracy does not happen by accident, nor is it to be conferred on only a select few,” Dionisio writes.

“We are Canadians and we deserve better.”

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