Former Toronto police union boss Craig Bromell is gunning for the biggest construction union in the country, alleging fraud at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).
His fledgling Building Union of Canada (BUC) has filed a Section 96 Application to the OLRB alleging Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 183 worked with a former break away union, the Canadian Construction Workers Union (CCWU), to try and rig the result of a raid vote by having officials of both unions pose as employees of a construction company.
Bromell’s lawyer, Robert Gibson of Gibson & Barnes LLP, says in the application filed Feb. 14, that five people showed up at the OLRB and “misrepresented” themselves as employees of a construction company, Pine Valley Enterprises, during a displacement application to sign workers away from the CCWU and into the BUC, thus “misleading” the OLRB.
The CCWU tried a couple of different legal tactics to stall or defer the vote by members but on Feb. 13 the vote was held. At that point, says the application, “a number of additional persons presented themselves and pretended to be employees of Pine Valley. They participated in the board’s process under this pretence. They proceeded to cast ballots in the vote.”
The application names:
Luis Torres, the business representative and vice-president of the CCWU since it was formed under ousted LIUNA Local 183 boss Tony Dionisio in 2007, as well as Nelson Narciso, Rudy Bomben, Leo Stellino, Cihangir Gozel (also known as Changri), all business reps with Local 183.
Joel Filipe, the president of CCWU was also named as part of the group; none of them had any employee relationship with Pine Valley. The application goes further saying Filipe signed off on the documentation at the OLRB.
“The owner of the company was there and he flipped,” said Bromell. “He said, ‘Who are you? They said, ‘We work for you and have for years.’ He said, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’”
Bromell said the shocker is that the misrepresentation was done right in front of the OLRB officials and is an affront to the process.
“This is embarrassing,” he said. “We’re new to all this. But is this what they do? Call up another union and ask for four members of their executive to come down for a vote. Two of them we recognized. The others we looked up on the Internet and found their pictures and names on the LIUNA website.”
LIUNA national president Joseph Mancinelli was dismissive of the application.
“It’s a waste of time, energy and money,” he said. “Look, all is fair in love and war. If they throw enough mud maybe it sticks or it just muddies up the water but the truth will come out at the OLRB because they aren’t interested in emotions or stories. The fact is it (the application) will flop because it didn’t happen. And they were never there.”
Ironically, the CCWU is now aligned with the same union it broke away from in 2007 in this twisted tale of union power politics.
When former boss Tony Dionisio was ousted from Local 183 after a long and protracted legal battle, he set up a new union — the CCWU in 2007. He received a pledge of $5 million in assistance from the Canadian Auto Workers, then led by Buzz Hargrove, who was sympathetic because his own union had faced a bitter struggle to break away from its U.S. parent, the United Auto Workers, and saw Local 183’s struggle with a Washington-power base as a parallel.
After a struggle to get certified as a union, CCWU persevered and is today a small player in the Toronto construction sector, involved in some raiding of its own and is also a target of raids by BUC.
The CCWU is now affiliated with its old nemesis LIUNA and a signatory to a Jan. 22 “unity coalition” through 2016 which includes LIUNA locals 183, 506 and the LIUNA Ontario Provincial District.
CCWU’s Filipe declined comment as did Local 183’s Jack Oliveira. Sources suggest, however, that the CAW funds were not fully extended to CCWU after it became a controversial issue within that organization.
“They never got $5 million in the end,” a source said. “And CCWU has sided with LIUNA because the issues that were there when they started have been resolved so they’ve been talking. They’re still independent however.”
CAW spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment.
Stay tuned to Monday’s Daily Commercial News for the second installment in this three-part series.