Jerry Dias was elected at the Unifor Founding Convention on August 31, 2013 as the first National President.
He is an experienced and trusted negotiator and organizer, taking on corporate giants from General Motors to Boeing to Coca-Cola. Jerry is a committed trade unionist, focused on the needs of local union leaders and rank-and-file members. His dedication has earned him the trust of members and shop floor bargaining committees right across the country.
Jerry served as an assistant to the CAW National President, a post that he held under two presidents since 2007. Jerry began his work life in 1978 at then de Havilland Aircraft (now Bombardier Aerospace) in Toronto. He was elected shop steward later that year in what would become a lifelong dedication to the labour movement. As plant chair in 1985, Jerry led the work stoppage that resulted in the current day national Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) – which includes the right to know about dangerous materials. He also fought against the sell-off of de Havilland, which would have resulted in a plant closure. Jerry was also elected local union president at CAW Local 112, before being appointed to the union’s national staff as the aerospace sector coordinator in 1993.
Over the last three years, Jerry has taken on the issue of violence against women through his participation, along with his son Jordan, in the Hope in High Heels walk. Jerry is the top fundraiser – helping to provide a large chunk of the operating budget of Halton Women’s Place, a women’s shelter and centre in Burlington, Ontario.
Jerry is a progressive CAW leader, with talents that will help guide Unifor in the transition from a bold idea into a powerful union for all.
Support by the federal government of a shield law for journalists is certainly welcomed. Journalists, whose work is essential to a functioning democracy, need to be able to do their jobs without fear of facing prosecution.
Nova Scotia took a big step toward reclaiming their province. The much-preferred option would have been to see the government of Stephen McNeil defeated or reduced to a minority, but cutting his Liberal Party to a razor-thin, one-seat majority will force it to listen more closely to the needs and wants of the people.
By electing Andrew Scheer as the new federal leader, members of Stephen Harper's party have sent a clear signal that they still embrace the policies of their former leader, if not his style. Indeed, the general consensus coming out of the weekend convention is that Scheer "represents no radical change from the Harper era, he doesn't challenge Conservative orthodoxy."
Canada recently signed on to a plan pushed by Japan and New Zealand to resuscitate the TPP despite the U.S. withdrawal. Under jointly negotiated TPP rules, there can no deal unless both the U.S. and Japan agree to it. Well, the U.S. didn't agree. And yet, the TPP lives on after Canada and the other 10 remaining countries voted to discuss reviving the deal.
Labour laws across this country have not kept up with the times. Written when most jobs were full time, and people could stay in one job to build a career and a life for their families, today's laws cannot adequately address the needs of workers in increasingly precarious temporary work and contract positions.
Jobs will be lost. Lives will be disrupted. Families and their communities will struggle. The cuts that result from these tariffs could have lasting impact, which will still be felt across this country by the time the next federal election comes along. This is about protecting and saving thousands of jobs across Canada.
Kicking out Harper was only a beginning to rebuilding a progressive vision in this country. We must push back as a united voice against the politics of division, racism, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia and sexism that right-wing populists stir up in their cynical quests for power.
In British Columbia, where the race for the May 9 provincial election is heating up, the NDP has called for a $15 minimum wage in the province by 2021. This is a good move, and one that progressive people across Canada should get behind.
Across Canada, we search far too often for answers to explain why and how our loved ones die on the job - whether the sudden loss of an industrial accident, or the slow death from chemicals or other toxins in the workplace. In 2015, the most recent year for which numbers available, 852 workers died at work.
To help ensure our incredible media outlets can survive through this time of upheaval as the ad-driven model for funding quality journalism falls apart, there needs to be some form of government support to assist those who need it. Longer term, we need the right mix of tax policy and regulatory support to encourage growth and strength in the media industry.
It has been a month since Beyak stood on the floor of the Senate to make her outrageous comments about the "good" parts of the residential school system. Part of me wants to thank Beyak for making it so clear that there is much work to be done to expose truth and ensure reconciliation. But Beyak doesn't have to stay in the Senate for me to do that.
The federal government has set an important precedent by applying the GST and HST to ridesharing services. It has said that such companies are not above the law. Innovation and new ways of doing things are welcome, but breaking the law is not.
The new federal budget is high on symbolism, and low on details and money. All that said, it is all too easy to criticize a budget. An important thing worth noting is the general direction the 2017 budget shows. The government is headed in the right direction, it just might take longer to get there.
For 22 years, Canada's federal governments have not properly assessed their own budgets and policies to ensure their decisions help both women and men, and do not further widen gender inequality. The aim should be to reduce it.
Supporting human rights and workers' struggles for higher wages and decent working conditions in other countries helps ensure that poverty-level wages and brutal working conditions do not distort investment decisions by large multi-national corporations. In the end, that just hurts all of us.
News that Bob White, founding president of the Canadian Auto Workers, one of the founding unions of Unifor, had died on Sunday made headlines across the country, and shook me and many others involved in the labour movement and social justice causes to our core.
To say that Bombardier should be allowed to "crash and burn," as some have, is not only heartless for the thousands of workers and their families who would be left in desperate straits as a result, it is bad economic policy. It is important to remember that Bombardier is one of Canada's largest employers.
Canada is a better place to live and a freer and more equitable society because of the long history of oppressed communities coming together and saying a better world is possible, and fighting to make it happen -- not just for themselves, but for the entire community and in solidarity with other oppressed groups.
Thanks to the digital revolution, Canadians have access to more news and information than ever before. Public consumption of the news is at historic levels. Despite all that, and despite the capacity to reach more people than ever thought possible before, the economic underpinning for gathering and producing reliable news and information is quickly collapsing.