Jerry Dias, the influential labour leader who has long guided Canada’s largest private sector union, is retiring from his position due to health concerns.
In a statement released Sunday, Unifor confirmed that Dias, who has been on medical leave since Feb. 6, would be stepping down effective immediately. The statement says Dias “continues to deal with ongoing health issues.”
“After eight and a half years I can proudly say we have built an incredible organization and made Unifor the influential and successful union it is today,” Dias said in the statement.
“I have all the confidence the leadership, staff and locals will continue to build Unifor into a bold and progressive force for working people from coast to coast to coast.”
Dias had previously said he would retire in August, after his third term as national president.
To my Unifor family: My Twitter account will be a little quiet for a while. I am taking some time off to deal with some health issues. I have every confidence the Unifor leadership team and staff will continue the important work of the union in my absence.
Dias was elected national president of Unifor following the creation of the union in 2013, after the merger between the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Unifor now encompasses 315,000 workers across multiple sectors, according to the union.
During that time Unifor disaffiliated from the Canadian Labour Congress and has been active on numerous significant political issues, including the negotiation of a new North American free trade agreement.
Over the past several elections, Unifor has participated as a third party advertiser, largely campaigning against Conservatives.