The head of the union representing the line workers at GM’s Oshawa assembly plant told Ontario Premier Doug Ford “F**k you” during a speech televised this past weekend, apparently over an accusation he’d given union members Ford’s personal cell phone number.

Ford made the complaint against Unifor president Jerry Dias after Ford allegedly received a barrage of messages and phone calls from Oshawa assembly employees who felt the province’s leader hadn’t done enough to fend off their plant’s upcoming closure, reports CTV News.

“You gotta know this, I would never do that. I am a public figure, I have a lot of work to do and I’ll speak to our members any day, I’ll speak to anyone,” Dias said. “He put it [his phone number] out on social media knowing that I never did it.”

General Motors Canada is shutting down the Oshawa plant, open since 1953, and laying off some 2,500 Unifor-affiliated workers there by the end of 2019.

Ford said late November when the province tried to persuade the automaker not to abandon the facility, GM told them “the ship has already left the dock.”

When Dias, as well as the province’s NDP opposition, suggested this was instead a case of Ford not wanting to fight on behalf of Ontario’s working class, Ford said they were “raising false hope” by insinuating the plant’s closure could still be averted.

While a spokesperson for Dias later apologized for his cursing on television, saying he got “worked up while addressing the GM Oshawa situation,” tensions between the two sides are still high, with Unifor this week allying with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) to together stop what they call Ford’s “destructive agenda.”

“Doug Ford has clearly shown his playbook,” Dias said in a statement about the alliance. “It’s one attack after another against working people and our families.”

Ford spokesperson Simon Jefferies said the province has been helping workers via measures like tax cuts for lower-income residents and by trying to draw new businesses to Ontario.

Unifor and OPSEU instead are pushing for the $15 minimum wage scrapped by the Ford government and measures like more generous sick-day policies.

Unifor and OPSEU are two of the country’s largest unions; together they represent about 470,000 workers.

Source: Driving

December 5, 2018