The member of Unifor's executive board which voted in favour of splitting with the Canadian Labour Congress says members do not need to be concerned.
Dave Cassidy, who is the national chair of the committee on skilled trades and the secretary-treasurer of Unifor Local 444 in Windsor, says the dispute is over the rights of workers to choose which union will represent them.
He says the issue goes back to a move by the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 to transfer members to Unifor. The ATU Local 113 represents transit workers in Toronto. The ATU fired Bob Kinnear saying he had violated his oath of office. It characterized the move as "underhanded" and "secretive".
Under Article 4 of the Canadian Labour Congress's constitution the issue should have gone for a review, but instead, the union was placed in trusteeship.
"We didn't take this lightly," says Cassidy of the vote on Tuesday. "This is not about [Unifor president] Jerry Dias."
This is not the first time the union has split from the Canadian Labour Congress. In 2000, its predecessor, the Canadian Auto Workers was accused of poaching members from the Service Employees International Union and expelled from both the CLC and the Ontario Federation of Labour.
"Nobody, probably, even knew that we were not part of the CLC or the OFL," says Cassidy reassuring members this split will not impact members. "Leaving the CLC does not mean we will not play a role in the broader labour movement. We will continue to do what we do on all the issues relative to the working men and women in our country."
On the local level, he says Unifor will still be active in labour councils, including the Windsor and District Labour Council.