I believe in a union we can all be proud of - a union for everyone, with everyone.
Statement from Lana Payne
By Lana Payne Campaign
Dear Unifor members:
This week, our union has once again made it into the news in an unfavourable light. It pains me to read the reports and to think of all of you, local union activists and members, who have worked so hard to build this union up.
I understand there is anger, disbelief and a shared sense of betrayal about how our union is appearing in the public eye. From the start, I have always found the situation we faced earlier this year a serious threat to our union. The investigation report was shocking and there was always legitimate concern about damage to the credibility of the union in addition to the sense of personal betrayal.
As a union, Unifor is accountable to its membership. Our Constitution includes a Code of Ethics. It says: “8. No Officer, Staff, member or person mandated by the union with the responsibility to inquire, audit or otherwise safeguard the ethics or integrity of the union shall be impeded or constrained in their responsibilities. No violation of this Code shall be covered up from an appropriate investigation.”
An alleged breach of our Code of Ethics is not something that should be covered up or swept under the carpet – no matter who is alleged to have engaged in the wrongdoing. That is why I made the decisions I did: to protect the union and ensure that I could always answer to our members about the tough choices that were required.
As an elected officer of this union, regardless of some people’s preference to keep everything quiet, I followed my duty to protect the union. So-called alternative resolutions, such as a quiet resignation, would have been tantamount to complicity and I stand by my view that an external, independent investigation was critical to ensure the union was never accused of a cover up.
It would have been unacceptable, in my view, to sign onto a secret settlement involving a breach of the Code of Ethics, especially if it resulted in a lack of transparency about what happened for our members.
I had to make tough and sometimes painful decisions. But I was always guided by our union’s founding principles: transparency and accountability and by the Oath of office I took when I began my term. At every step, I asked myself if I was doing the right thing for the union – not for myself and not for my friends – but for our union and our members.
My hope in this difficult period is that my actions can show that there is another way. We can choose light over shadows. We can choose transparency over cover ups. We do not need to endure a union where the members fear the consequences of speaking out against top officers or senior staff. We can choose a union that puts respect above bullying; that puts our members and locals at the heart of all our work.
I believe in a union we can all be proud of - a union for everyone, with everyone. I stand by the actions I took to initiate an external independent investigation. I support the decisions of the elected National Executive Board. I am fully aware of the hill we must climb to rebuild trust and solidarity. I know it will not be easy, and that we must act together. This union has everything it needs to strive and to be the beacon of the labour movement because it has you - its members.
I know what we are capable of and how much more we can do when we are guided by our trade union principles. These are difficult times for all of you and I am deeply sorry that your hearts are hurting. From crisis comes growth and renewal. We can build this union stronger. We will be smart and principled with all the fights we take on. I know this because I know you, trade unionists who with heart and love will fight for the kind of union we all know is possible: a modern social union for everyone and with everyone.
We will never back down.
The way forward is for the membership to decide. You have my respect, always. I look forward to sharing my vision for a new future for Unifor at the Constitutional Convention. Forward, Together, my friends.