OLRB upholds trusteeship of Universal Workers Union Local 183

    Labourers' International Union of North America established "just cause"
    to replace former business manager Tony Dionisio, board says

    TORONTO, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - In a sweeping judgment submitted Jan. 26, 2007,
the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ruled Labourers' International Union
of North America (LIUNA) established "just cause" for placing Universal
Workers Union Local 183 under trusteeship, replacing former business manager
Tony Dionisio.
    "It is surely inconsistent with the core values of LIUNA and Local 183 to
expend union funds on surreptitious surveillance conducted for the purpose of
preserving the positions of those in power," wrote the OLRB's Norm Jesin. "It
is also inconsistent with those core values to approve the forgery of
collective agreements."
    "I have found that LIUNA has established just cause for the imposition of
trusteeship," Mr. Jesin added.
    LIUNA is currently working toward lifting the trusteeship order and
restore Local 183 to the control of the members.
    "We are pleased that the OLRB confirmed the findings of the Keller
Decision, and in doing so, approved LIUNA's internal process," said Joseph
Mancinelli, Vice-President of LIUNA. "The trustees of Local 183 want to move
forward to ensure that members have a strong democratic union with the best
pension and benefits in Canada."
    Local 183 was placed under trusteeship in June 2006 by Canadian
Independent Hearing Officer Brian Keller. In his report, Mr. Keller found that
Tony Dionisio, Local 183's former business manager, and other executive
members, engaged in several questionable activities.

    Here is what Mr. Keller determined when probing how Local 183 was run
under Mr. Dionisio:

    -   On misspending union funds: "Local 183 (was) spending large amounts
        of Union money in a manner that is contrary to LIUNA's policy on the
        payment of legal fees with Union funds."

    -   On spending vast sums on surveillance of Local 183 members: "It is
        not disputed that the Local spent in excess of $340,000 between March
        2004 and April 2005 to conduct surveillance on various individuals,
        including business representatives of the Local... The expenditure of
        the funds was directed to the preservation of the leadership of the
        Local, and not to the direct benefit of any member of the Local. The
        Local may not have been happy that some of its members were meeting
        with representatives of the International but those members had the
        constitutional right to do so..."

    -   On wrongly claiming pension credits: "Senior officers and employees
        of Local 183 attempted to acquire additional service credits in the
        Labourers' Pension Fund of Central and Eastern Canada by making false
        claims of past employment. The claims, which were made in letters
        submitted to the pension fund, concerned employment alleged to have
        taken place between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. The alleged
        employment did not occur."

    -   On forging collective agreements: "... Forged collective agreements
        were used to trigger a subcontracting clause that required members of
        the Metropolitan Toronto Apartment Builders' Association to
        subcontract ... to companies that had a collective bargaining
        relationship with Local 183. The forgeries were committed by an
        employee of Local 183 at the instigation of his superior. The forged
        collective agreements were deliberately submitted to an arbitrator in
        order to obtain the benefit of this subcontracting clause."

    Mr. Dionisio and four other former Local 183 executive members were also
banned from membership and holding office in the Local for various terms for
attempting to divert $5-million in union funds to Mr. Dionisio's personal
control. The decision was upheld by Independent Hearing Officer Barry Stephens
on Jan. 12.
    "We look forward to presenting a plan for lifting trusteeship, and
restoring control of Local 183 to the members," Mr. Mancinelli said. "Enough
money has been wasted on lawyers - which is why I am glad that trusteeship has
given Local 183 the chance to get back to basics - enhancing members' pension,
improving benefits, mentoring a new generation of labour leaders, and securing
training and educational opportunities for members"
    For the full text of the OLRB's decision, please visit:
    For more facts on the Dionisio case regarding Local 183, please visit:

For further information:

For further information: Joseph Mancinelli, LIUNA regional
vice-president, (905) 522-7177, or joseph@liuna.ca; Dan Randazzo, LIUNA legal
counsel, (905) 537-6800, or randazzo@liuna.ca

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