Unions boycott Ontario Federation of Labour convention

Infighting leads to leadership endorsement by COPE
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 11/22/2011

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is not in attendance at the province’s largest convention for unions this week.

The union representing 12,000 Ontario public employees say they no longer support the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and that this decision is in line with other unions, such as the Ontario Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union, according to a Nov. 21 press release.

"Various labour leaders involved know why the situation has reached this point,” says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Like any family, the labour movement has strong personalities which can lead to strong differences.”

The OFL holds policy conventions every two years where leadership is elected.

Earlier this month, director of the Canadian Office and Profession Employees (COPE) union Janice Best criticized the current leadership of the OFL. She said the current executive is an example of “what can happen when the wrong people get elected to leadership positions at our labour centrals.”

COPE endorsed Unity Team, three individuals running as a team for the leadership of the OFL.

“The childish maneuvering and infighting by some federation officers and leaders of some other unions has left us with a divided house of labour in Ontario,” Best wrote in an online message to COPE members. “As union leadership, we all need to forget our personal grievances and get onside with the Unity Team to effectively advance our collective agenda.”

Reports indicate Sid Ryan has been re-elected as OFL president, Irwin Nanda won the executive vice-president position and Nancy Hutchison is the new Secretary-Treasurer. All are members of the Unity Team.

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