Luckily for Brother Ryan, his ‘case’ was heard by a retired senior judge rather than by a kangaroo-court Human Rights Commission tribunal, at which the truth would have been irrelevant, intent meaningless, and guilt could have been determined simply on the basis of the complainant’s “hurt feelings”.
In fact, without the clout and the dues money of some 700,000 Ontario union members behind him, Ryan could have lost his income and possessions just clearing himself.
As it is, the expenditure of some $350,000 in workers’ dues-money to ‘exonerate’ Ryan should, in my humble opinion, be regarded as a taxable benefit and added to his T-4 slip come income tax time.
I tend to agree with Ken Lewenza, President of the Canadian Auto Workers, who is quoted below as saying that “…the case turned into a distraction for the federation and wasted funds and valuable staff time… there was too much time and resources spent on a frivolous complaint when many of our members, who have no voice in society, needed a strong voice and didn’t get it… We better start concentrating on our members’ needs.”
Forgive me for suggesting that his thoughts perhaps complement mine, as expressed in “Time for City of Toronto employees to dump CUPE” posted on August 20th (link below).
Rights complaint exposes deep rifts at OFL
Tony Van Alphen: August 25th, 2011
Ontario’s biggest labour body recently spent more than $350,000 to exonerate president Sid Ryan of racial discrimination and harassment complaints by one of its top officers.
Underscoring festering high-level internal strife, the Ontario Federation of Labour paid for a prominent former judge and outside lawyers to quietly deal with workplace allegations by executive vice-president Terry Downey, its third-highest ranking officer.
Federation officials would not talk Wednesday about the contentious and sensitive case or its cost to members, but union sources revealed the bills surpassed $350,000.
Ken Lewenza, an executive board member and president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said the case turned into a distraction for the federation and wasted funds and valuable staff time.
He added that senior federation officials, who negotiate with employers and resolve disputes daily, should have been able to resolve the complaint internally.
“In the end, there was too much time and resources spent on a frivolous complaint when many of our members, who have no voice in society, needed a strong voice and didn’t get it,” Lewenza said. “We better start concentrating on our members’ needs.”
Downey, a former investigator at the Human Rights Commission of Ontario, charged Ryan with workplace discrimination, harassment and reprisals at the federation, an umbrella labour group with more 700,000 members in 54 unions.
A lawyer representing the federation’s board commissioned former Ontario chief justice Patrick LeSage to investigate the allegations.
LeSage, who is now in private practice as a lawyer, said that after hearing both parties, numerous witnesses and reading voluminous documents, he found that Ryan didn’t breach provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
“I conclude there was neither individually nor collectively discrimination, harassment or reprisals on the basis of race or gender by Mr. Ryan against Ms Downey,” Lesage wrote. “The applicable legal tests do not support a finding that Mr. Ryan was in contravention. . . .
“Although I believe Ms Downey honestly believes Mr. Ryan has harassed, discriminated and made reprisals against her on the basis of gender and race, the evidence both direct and circumstantial does not establish on balance this to be so.”
In a twist, Downey currently faces two grievances from OFL staff relating to allegations of harassment and mistreatment.
The normally outspoken Ryan, 61, who led the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees for several years, said he could not discuss the case because of a confidentiality agreement.
Downey, 50, also said she would not discuss the case and questioned the accuracy of the Star’s information.
“This is a sensitive matter because an election is coming up,” she added, referring to OFL leadership votes in November where Ryan and her could clash again. “At this point I can’t say anything.”
The case reflects an internal power struggle that has marred the federation for more than a year. Insiders say some unions have been actively trying to undermine Ryan, who won office in 2009 and has raised the public profile of organized labour despite the internal bickering.
It has reached the point where some unions slashed their funding to the OFL. That forced the federation to cut staff which has weakened its effectiveness.
“It’s tense there now,’’ said one union activist familiar with the working environment at the federation’s headquarters in suburban Don Mills.
See original here.
See “Time for City of Toronto employees to dump CUPE” here.