Canada’s largest private-sector union is accusing its former president of breaking its ethics code on a number of occasions.
According to Unifor, Jerry Dias accepted money from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that he had been promoting to employers of Unifor members.
“In December 2021 and January 2022, Dias promoted a supplier’s rapid test kits to various Unifor employers, either directly or through Unifor staff under his direction,” reads a release Wednesday. “Several employers of Unifor members purchased tests as a result of Dias’ introductions.”
At some point, Dias allegedly received $50,000 from the supplier. It is unclear if the payment came before, during or after the promoting.
“None of the employers had knowledge of Dias’ personal interest in the transactions,” reads the release.
Unifor was alerted to the situation after January 20, when Dias allegedly gave a union employee $25,000, saying it was half of the money that he had received. The following week, the employee reported it to higher-ups.
“Unifor is built on a democratic foundation that holds all members to the highest of standards,” said Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne in a statement. “Our Constitution has strong checks and balances, a robust code of ethics and comprehensive enforcement procedures to ensure that the conduct of all elected leaders reflects the responsibilities entrusted to them.”
“Every step was taken to investigate and bring this matter to light in a fair and timely manner,” she said.
Dias went on medical leave in early February and retired on March 11, citing health problems.
On Wednesday, Dias announced he will be going into rehab, as per the advice of his doctor. He said he had been using painkillers, sleeping pills and alcohol, citing issues with his sciatic nerve.
He argued this had affected his judgement.
Dias has been charged with violating the union’s constitution. There will be a hearing in front of the National Executive Board in the future, during which he will be able to make his case.
The union said Wednesday it was looking into getting legal advice.
“Our trust in one individual has been broken, but our confidence in the integrity of our union remains strong,” said Payne.
Stock photo of Jerry Dias credited to Unifor