Unifor and the 'stench of hypocrisy'

Why is Mary Shortall still president of the NL Federation of Labour?

As a member of Unifor, the country’s largest private-sector union, Shortall should have resigned in January when her union pulled out of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

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The CLC controls provincial federations of labour, and Unifor’s departure should have made Shortall’s resignation automatic.

Likewise, Hussan Yussuff, President of the CLC, is also a member of Unifor, and his resignation should have been automatic, too.

Only it wasn’t.

Sid Ryan, a legend in the Canadian labour movement (former head of the Ontario Federation of Labour, and CUPE Ontario), says Yussuff and a small band of union leaders (I’m including Shortall here) ruled that they could keep their jobs (Yussuff makes $200,000 plus; Shortall is said to make $110,000 plus) by obtaining a “fake membership” in another union.

What union did Mary Shortall join?

It’s definitely not the FFAW, because that union is an affiliate of Unifor, and as such had to leave the NL Federation of Labour earlier this year.

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Sid Ryan points out that while Yussuff and Shortall keep their executive positions, ordinary dues-paying members of Unifor are banished from the federations labour and labour councils.

Says Ryan, “The stench of this hypocrisy permeates into every crevice of the labour movement.”

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In August 2016, two months before FISH-NL was formed, I wrote Hussan Yussuff personally to ask the Canadian Labour Congress to look into the concerns that inshore harvesters with the FFAW-Unifor — including conflicts of interest, and a union that has “lost its way.”

Yussuff wrote me back to to rip me apart personally, accusing me of trying to create a job for myself.

What Yussuff didn’t do was inform disgruntled inshore harvesters of their options under the Canadian Labour Congress’s constitution — Article 4 specifically – which outlines a means to resolve representation issues, and even leave the union. 

Sid Ryan has accused Yussuff of “wilfully neglecting” to inform inshore harvesters who want to leave the FFAW-Unifor of the the Article 4 process. 

“It appears the CLC president is incapable of being impartial when it comes to his own union,” he said. “Perhaps that has something to do with the $1 million Jerry Dias (President of Unifor) boasts about spending to get Yussuff elected.”

As for what to do about it, Sid Ryan says, “The only way to rid the movement of this stench of hypocrisy is to hold an emergency special convention and allow the membership to have their say.”

Stay tuned.