February 7, 2017 1:01 pm

Unifor lends its support behind Bob Kinnear in spat with TTC union’s parent association

Unifor President Jerry Dias, (left) and Bob Kinnear (right), speak to reporters in Toronto on Feb. 7, 2017.

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Unifor Union President Jerry Dias is lending his support behind ousted TTC union leader Bob Kinnear after the union’s Washington-based parent association placed the local under a trusteeship last week.

“I’m not going to allow somebody in the United States to seize the assets of Canadian workers. That union hall is owned by the workers. They don’t have the right to take out of office those who were democratically elected,” Dias told reporters Tuesday morning.

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Executive members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 were removed from their positions on Friday after the Maryland-based parent union allegedly got word Kinnear had attempted to disaffiliate the union.

READ MORE: Temporary trustee of TTC union reinstates 10 board members, but not president Kinnear

Manny Sforza, the American parent’s international vice president who has since been designated as a temporary TTC trustee, told reporters during a press conference Tuesday morning Kinnear was “plotting in secret” to have the TTC workers’ union join Unifor.

A letter sent by ATU international president Larry Hanley to its Canadian officers on Monday stated that Kinnear’s efforts to decertify Local 113 was part of a Unifor campaign “to take over all ATU Locals in Canada.”

Kinnear maintains the spat between the two parties is a result of its American counterpart not respecting the democracy of Canadian members and their right to vote and choose who they want to affiliate themselves with.

“Why is the ATU so concerned and afraid of a democratic and free vote?,” Kinnear said. “If that happens and the membership so chooses, I won’t dispute it. In fact, I will respect it, encourage the members as I always have and stand shoulder to shoulder with the members.”

READ MORE: TTC union president, executive members ousted by American transit union

Kinnear said last week an application with the Canadian Labour Congress was filed to have them come in and investigate if the ATU is representing them properly.

Kinnear has also sought legal action to have the ATU’s decision to let loose the leadership team overturned.

ATU International had removed 17 union executives from their positions on Friday but 10 were reinstated a day later after they accepted to sign “loyalty oaths.”

ATU Local 113 represents nearly 11,000 transit employees in Toronto.

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