Union executive ordered goons to intimidate workers: Inquiry
Published Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:07AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 3, 2013 6:37PM EDT
A former construction union executive says the upper echelon of the union had more interest in promoting their friends and insiders than in protecting the people they were paid to represent.
According to Ken Pereira the union executives routinely ordered goons to intimidate and use violence to coerce union members and non-members on job sites.
A former FTQ-Construction executive himself, Pereira presented a litany of threats during his Thursday testimony before the Charbonneau Commission.
As an example, Pereira explained how union executives were annoyed when Gerard St-Cyr, 60, refused to give up a union post.
According to Pereira's testimony, Dupuis personally ordered a squad of goons to beat the man to a pulp.
In this case the goons showed up, met St-Cyr, then refused to hit the man because they felt it would be morally incorrect.
Brass concerned with friends
Pereira said that when he started working for FTQ-Construction in 2005 he was happy he would have the chance to get his union members more work opportunities.
However he was disillusioned to discover fellow union executives putting their friends, acquaintances and hangers-on into positions instead of concentrating on the tens of thousands of rank and file union members.
Pereira said he found that union president Jocelyn Dupuis even managed to get one of his 'cronies' into a position at the union's fiscal management arm, the Fonds de Solidarité.
Pereira testified that union executives had no interest in performing what he saw as their real job.
"We were a union that defended workers and those guys, and the only thing, the only goal and the executive knew this. There was no vision. There was no talk of helping local offices. They didn't care regardless of what was happening to the workers. Zero interest. And I was the only one who noticed, and I had a heated exchange about what was going on," Pereira said.
Pereira said that at one point he was ordered by Dupuis to stop being a union idealist, and to get with the program.
“I just want to tell you that Jocelyn Dupuis had control and had access to just about any damn door,” said. Pereira.
Pereira recounted a conversation he had in the summer of 2007, after a day of golf, in which Dupuis told him to stop worrying about union disputes with other organizations, because FTQ-Construction had more important things to do.
“He told me, ‘You, you're a man of principle that’s fine but for the rest of us, it’s a much bigger business. I have access to $500 million. There is money for everyone.’”
Pereira believed that Dupuis was referring to the QFL Solidarity Fund.
Pereira reported that Yves Derosby, a former member of Local 791, frequently said that he got his job at the Solidarity Fund thanks to Jocelyn Dupuis.
Pereira also said that Dupuis got a waitress he knew hired into two union jobs that she both soon quit.
Pereira claimed that Dupuis named the leaders of union locals, even though they are theoretically supposed to be independent
He also claimed that many of the leaders of the FTQ-Construction and the Quebec Council of Labour Trades (a rival union) had family members named to the Commission de la construction du Québec.
Pereira also recounted unflattering stories from his previous union.
He switched unions and said that his efforts to get others to follow him were thwarted by the Quebec Council of Labour Trades, who sent men to videotape the FTQ building where he was trying to attract support.
Pereira cited the case of Gilbert Vachon, who he said was known as one of the best industrial mechanics in the province, but Vachon lost his job after joining FTQ-Construction.
Pereira also told of a conflict in a cardboard factory that took place when he was still at the Quebec Council of Labour Trades.
Industrial mechanics walked off the job in protest to the presence of eight workers affiliated with the CSD (Central des syndicats democratiques) who had been sub-contracted from the Eastern Townships. The work stoppage turned out costly for the employer. The provincial council union was its case against the CSD a, who were no longer allowed to return to the factory.
-With files from The Canadian Press