Jerry Dias, the man who’s been at the helm of Unifor in Canada since its inception, has chosen to retire because of health reasons. On medical leave since last month, Dias announced his decision in a statement yesterday.
Unifor, in case you’re wondering why we’re covering this on a car site, represents about 40,000 workers in the Canadian auto industry and was formed out of a merger between the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada in 2013.
Dias was perpetually at the fore of communications when it came to auto manufacturing north of the border. He and the Unifor team led the charge to secure production at a General Motors facility in Oshawa, Ontario after GM announced the building of new cars at Oshawa would wind down in 2019 and cease by the end of that year. Instead of the planned stamping work and test track for autonomous tech, the facility started making full-size pickups. The first truck from that deal popped off the line in mid-November last year.
The big boss had previously announced his intentions to retire this coming August, following his third term as national president. He then said in February, via Twitter, that he was taking some time off to “deal with some health issues” and expressed confidence in his team to lead the shop in his absence. With the August date on the horizon, two union members have already announced their bids to campaign for the national presidency. That effort will presumably be expedited following this earlier-than-expected retirement, with the National Executive Board meeting on March 21 to determine the next steps.
Canada’s auto manufacturing industry has, like its cousins around the world, had its share of ups and downs. In addition to a variety of supporting players, companies such as Ford, GM, Honda, Stellantis, and Toyota all make products or parts in the Great White North. Not all of these workers are represented by Unifor. In terms of volume, Canadian sales run at about a tenth of America, a figure which roughly aligns with our populations if not our landmasses. This explains why the two countries are so closely linked in terms of product. Still, there are occasions when regional preferences take over, showing up in the form of unique trim packages for the hosers or – not often, but sometimes – entirely different models.
Unifor represents over 300,000 workers in Canada with about 12 percent of those people toiling either in auto assembly, parts, or vehicle dealerships.
[Image: Unifor, Twitter]
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