Unifor President Jerry Dias takes medical leave to deal with health issues

Jessica Thompson

Unifor National President Jerry Dias said Wednesday he is taking time off to deal with health issues.

The head of the union that represents hourly workers at Detroit 3 plants in Canada and thousands of workers at Canadian auto parts facilities, is currently serving a third and final term as head of Unifor.

“To my Unifor family: My Twitter account will be a little quiet for a while. I am taking some time off to deal with some health issues,” Dias said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon. He added he had “every confidence” in the union’s leadership team and staff during his absence.

Dias, 63, announced the leave of absence on Wednesday but a memo to union locals and staff indicates he has been on leave since Feb. 6. The memo, from Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne, adds Dias “did not make the decision to take this leave easily.”

Dias has said he will retire later this year as opposed to standing for re-election. He will have spent nine years as Unifor’s head, serving since the union was formed in 2013 by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

Dias is also actively engaged in countering U.S. protectionism, serving as chair of an Ontario Premier’s Council formed in response to American threats to Canada’s auto industry.

The union said Unifor’s assistant to the national president, Shane Wark, is taking the lead on auto industry bargaining and matters in Dias’s absence.

Unifor is the predominant union for workers in Canada’s auto industry, representing 40,000 workers in auto assembly, parts and vehicle dealerships.

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