The Toronto Star
Rival Hired Bouncers For Crucial Vote, Union Says Complaint Latest Salvo In Bitter War
By Jack Lakey TORONTO STAR
November 7, 1995
The battle among Metro trade unions for new members has taken another nasty twist, with one accusing another of barring workers from a ratification vote held at a "strip club."
The Carpenters and Allied Workers yesterday issued a news release saying that the Labourers International Union had used intimidation tactics to keep workers out of a ratification meeting in North York last week.
The news release said the laborers union "has hired professional bouncers as part of its ongoing attempt to expand its influence in Toronto's troubled housing industry."
It said the "bouncers" had prevented 20 employees of Dominion Sheet Metal and Roofing from attending a ratification vote, and that it "was the third meeting held by the (laborers) at a North York strip club hotel."
But when the spokesperson named on the news release was asked what proof he had that the laborers union had hired bouncers to guard the door, he replied that, "they certainly appeared to be professional bouncers."
Jack Slaughter, lawyer for the carpenter's union, said that when Dominion employees who wanted to be represented by the carpenters union tried to go to the laborers ratification vote, "they were barred by several physically large individuals."
When asked why the news release describes the Yorkdale Inn, which rents rooms for business meetings, as a strip club, Slaughter replied: "I don't know because I'm not the author of the news release. I still have to pursue that."
The news release is the latest salvo in the battle between the laborers union and unions of plumbers, carpenters, painters and drywallers.
Those unions are furious that Laborers Local 183 has aggressively organized and signed up workers during the past year that they feel should be their members.
Several of the unions have insisted that workers who don't want to join the laborers union have been bullied, intimidated and kept away from meetings where they would have voted against the laborers.
And they are suspicious of the hiring by Local 183 of Gus Simone, a veteran organizer with a checkered past. Simone told a royal commission into unions in the 1970s that he had accepted gifts and money from contractors that employ union members.
Joe Mancinelli, the Ontario director of the laborers union, said he was outraged by what he described as a deliberate attempt to mislead the media.
"These guys are upset because they are losers," Mancinelli said.