Uniform hands over alleged kickback funds to police

Canada’s largest private sector union has handed over part of the money obtained by its former president Jerry Dias in an alleged kickback scandal to the police.

In a statement issued Monday, Unifor’s senior leadership said it delivered funds the union received from a whistleblower to the Toronto Police Service — who will “now decide whether to investigate any matter connected to that money.”

“Unifor has no role in that decision,” the statement says.

TPS has not yet confirmed whether it has launched an investigation into the matter.

Dias was allegedly given $50,000 by a rapid test supplier who promoted Unifor employers, according to an external investigation commissioned by the union. Dias subsequently offered half of that money to an assistant he passed over for an endorsement as his successor to the Unifor presidency.

National assistant Chris Macdonald later gave the money to Unifor’s secretary-treasurer and filed a breach of ethics complaint.

The union has previously said it does not know what happened to Dias’s alleged share of the money, but confirmed to the Star that those funds “were never in Unifor’s possession.”

“Unifor is not in receipt of any funds from Mr. Dias and cannot speculate as to where they might be.”

The allegations first surfaced publicly on March 14, following a complaint about Days in late January. On Jan. 29, Dias was told of the investigation, and on Feb. 6 he went on leave, citing health issues.

A month later, he informed the Unifor executive board he was withdrawing effective immediately, just days before news of the investigation became public.

Dias did not participate in the investigation after a psychiatric assessment provided to Uniform recommended against it. As the union went public with its allegations of a kickback scandal last month, Dias revealed he was struggling with substance abuse issues and had checked into a rehabilitation facility.

A copy of the psychiatric assessment obtained by the Star said Dias had struggled with a sciatic nerve issue that prompted self-medication, and was also under “significant stress” at work after being forced to choose between two “close friends” to endorse as his successor as Unifor president.

“Mr. Dias’s wrongful conduct may have arisen at least in part due to his feelings of loyalty to the individual who was not chosen to succeed him,” the report said.

“The events reported by Mr. Dias surrounding the issue in the workplace featured the consumption of significant amounts of alcohol.”

The alleged ethics breach and ensuing revelations come as Unifor faces its first contested election since Dias first became president upon the union’s creation in 2013.

Dias’s retirement had already triggered plans for an emergency convention to elect his replacement, which is currently scheduled to happen in August. But in light of the allegations and ensuing investigation, the union has now paused election campaigning.

Unifor’s executive board will meet soon discuss the next step in the process — a hearing where Dias will “be provided the opportunity to present information and arguments concerning the charge, the union said.

Dias has not yet responded to the Star’s request for comment.


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