Statement from COPE Local 343

Statement on Unifor Disaffiliation (Jan 24, 2018)

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Sisters, Brothers and Comrades,

As you may or may not know, Unifor decided to disaffiliate from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). This decision will have a negative impact on the labour movement. COPE Local 343 feels that leaving the house of labour is not only divisive, but in contradiction of everything we believe the labour movement stands for.

To be clear, it is our belief that this move by Unifor to disaffiliate from the CLC is directly related to the raiding actions taken by them over the last several weeks against UNITE HERE Local 75 members.

This is a huge risk for members of UNITE HERE Local 75 who are in a statutory freeze in their collective agreements during the open periods in 2018. When you decertify from your union your collective agreement is not protected, and these members could risk the provisions of the collective agreements they fought so hard to negotiate.

The Executive Board of COPE Local 343 is sending out this statement to you, our members, because we have members who work for UNITE HERE Local 75, and if this raiding is successful, these members, some of whom have worked for UNITE HERE Local 75 for over 45 years, will lose their jobs. We need to follow the lead of our members working for UNITE HERE Local 75 to support them and protect them to the best of our ability from the repercussions of the raiding by Unifor by participating in anti-raiding actions.

We know that Lis Pimental, the former President of UNITE HERE Local 75, dismissed the elected Executive Board when they did not support her interests. The former President took further actions and locked out the elected Executive Board and staff from the office, and appointed a new executive board. Lis Pimental is now assisting Unifor with the raiding. Of our 14 members working at UNITE HERE Local 75, 3 followed her to Unifor. These actions violate the constitution of the Local and it is our members and the elected Executive Board who requested the UNITE HERE International put Local 75 in trusteeship. To be clear, this is not a “US Invasion”.

It is important that we respect the democratic process and follow the constitutions of our organizations. In 2004, COPE/SEPB sought autonomy from OPEIU International. Amongst many ongoing issues, OPEIU International imposed a per capita increase that would have burdened us. The Canadian locals democratically and legally split from OPEIU to become their own Canadian Union – COPE/SEPB. Our departure from the International is a completely different situation than the one occurring here now with UNITE HERE Local 75 and the raiding of their members by Unifor.

To reiterate, we want our members to know that we do not take the actions of the Unifor raid on UNITE HERE Local 75 lightly and that we will support any anti-raiding actions our members who work for UNITE HERE invite us to participate in.

At a time when workers across the country are becoming more and more emboldened to rise up, we must now more than ever adhere to these principles and help those who wish to organize to do so.

Feel free to contact us at office@cope343.com for more information and the President Kelly Belbin will respond to you.

In solidarity,
The Executive Board of COPE Local 343