former unifor president accused of accepting 50k from rapid test kit supplier
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Former Unifor president accused of accepting $50K from rapid test kit supplier

The former national president of Unifor has been accused of accepting money from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits.

Last week, Unifor launched an investigation against Jerry Dias one day after he announced his early retirement. At the time, the executive board offered no other details but said Dias was accused of breaching the union’s constitution.

On Wednesday, Unifor’s secretary-treasurer Lana Payne, who commenced the investigation in late January, said an independent external investigator determined Dias stands charged with breaching the code of ethics and democratic practices of the Unifor constitution.

“Unifor is committed to transparency in this matter. Our Constitution requires that an investigation be conducted in a confidential and fair manner,” said Payne. “Now that the investigation has concluded, Unifor wishes to share the results with its members. Every step was taken to investigate and bring this matter to light in a fair and timely manner.”

According to the union, Dias is alleged to have engaged in a number of breaches of the Unifor Code of Ethics. Sometime before January 20, 2022, he reportedly accepted $50,000 from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid tests that he had promoted to employers of Unifor members.

Unifor said Dias then gave another employee what he said was half of the funds, $25,000, on January 20, 2022, telling them that it had come from the supplier. The worker then filed a complaint under the Unifor code of ethics and delivered the funds to Payne.

Unifor’s executive board said it will hold a hearing into the matter. The supplier is not being identified as it was not a participant in the investigation. Currently, the probe is not a criminal investigation, but the union said it has sought legal counsel.

Dias was informed about the investigation on January 29. On February 6, he went on medical leave, several weeks later on March 11, he notified the board of his intentions to retire due to health issues.

In a separate statement to members of the union on Wednesday, Dias said he plans to enter a rehab facility after his doctor informed him he needs help.

“This past December, my life took a remarkable turn for the worse when I was confronted with a debilitating sciatic nerve issue,” said Dias. “It’s hard for me to say this, but my coping mechanism has been pain killers, sleeping pills and alcohol. These factors have impaired my judgement in recent months, and I owe it to our members to seek the treatment I need.”

Dias added that he is aware of the hearing but on his physician’s advice, he will not be able to participate in the investigation.

For now, the union has paused an election to name a new president. Local 444 president Dave Cassidy and Dias’ former assistant Scott Doherty, are both running for the position.
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