Sid Ryan ‘update’

While Christina Blizzard seems to have been unaware that Sid Ryan was re-elected as President of the Ontario Federation of Labour a few days prior to her article appearing, she certainly hits the nail on the head with regards to his ongoing posturing and shenanigans.

His preference for hogging the limelight, to the detriment of advancing union interests by maintaining good relations with those who make the laws, has put the Ontario labour movement back into the Dark Ages, as demonstrated by the objections of Ontario Nurses’ Association president Linda Haslam-Stroud and Ontario Provincial Service Employees’ Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, both quoted below.

As Sid’s ‘career’ as a radical draws to its conclusion, I am setting up a “Sid Ryan” category to honour what I view as his parasitical and destructive career in radical politics at the expense of the average working Joe.

At the foot of this post is a link to my Toronto Free Press article “CUPE Boss Eyes Pension Fund” published on December 14th, 1999. 

You may find it illuminating.

Jeff Goodall.

Ryan alienating other unions

Toronto Sun
Christina Blizzard: Nov. 26th, 2011

TORONTO – There’s trouble in union paradise.

Sid Ryan, the controversial leader of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is under fire — from his own members.

Several large unions are withholding dues from the umbrella OFL organization, citing Ryan’s divisive leadership style and his confrontational tone.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) has suspended its OFL membership and did not attend its recent convention.

“It’s not in our interests to have our name supporting his rhetoric,” ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud told me last week.

“His leadership, his leadership philosophy and the direction he’s taking the Federation are not in keeping with ONA or our values,” she said.

In a recent incident, the firebrand union leader manhandled Sun News reporter Jacqui Delaney as she attempted to interview him about his actions at the Occupy Toronto demonstration.

Ryan grabbed Delaney by the arm, calling her a, “s— disturber,” for questioning why he was attempting to fire up protesters — just as police were peacefully clearing the park.

He later called Delaney an “agitator.”

In fact, according to his former colleagues in the OFL, Ryan is the one with the divisive style.

“Basically, it’s a one man show,” said Haslam-Stroud, who represents 57,000 registered nurses and other health professionals. “He has marginalized the two duly elected women officers that he was charged to work with over the last two years.

“They’ve since basically not put their names forward for re-election. They don’t want to be part of that treatment any longer,” she said.

“He’s very divisive and as nurses, we’re looking to work with labour leaders that will move the working people’s agenda forward without his leadership,” Haslam-Stroud said.

The ONA joined the OFL just seven years ago.

Their organization serves professionals who are dedicated to the welfare of their patients — and they’re not interested in the civil disobedience Ryan espouses.

They must get along with politicians of all stripes, and she found Ryan’s style was alienating people she had to work with.

“He isn’t leading this organization. He’s fighting internally. He’s divisive within the organization and his grandstanding might get a rousing clap from an audience but it’s not really garnering the respect and credibility that I think are necessary from a leader that’s trying to work for positive change,” she said.

One of the largest public sector unions, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), representing about 120,000 workers in the broader public sector has also withdrawn financial support from the OFL. It didn’t go to the convention and has sent no representatives to committees.

“I’ve use this analogy with people: We’re on strike,” joked OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

When Ryan failed to follow through on changes he’d promised, the OPSEU executive voted to withhold its dues from the OFL.

“I am not about to spend my members’ hard-earned dollars that they paid us in dues — to the tune of some $700,000 a year — when we don’t believe there’s value in that,” Thomas said.

“We didn’t see the commitments lived up to,” he said. “We didn’t see the changes made that were promised. In fact, in our opinion, it got worse.”

Thomas says the OFL is 50 years old and needs structural changes, similar to those being made by the Canadian Labour Congress, to modernize it.

He’s proud to say his union is still active in the labour movement. They recently bought yurts and supported demonstrators at Occupy Toronto in St. James Park.

Rod Sheppard of the Society of Energy Workers said his chief concern is that Ryan started to spend money the union didn’t have.

“He hired an executive director that had not been approved by the board in 2009-10,” Sheppard said.

That hiring meant at some point the union would have to increase the amount it paid to the OFL. He was concerned that Ryan did not follow the correct process for hiring new staff.

“We already had concerns about the staff pension deficit and we didn’t want to risk that staff pension on spending we didn’t really have the funds for,” said Sheppard, whose union represents more than 7,000 engineers, scientists and other electricity sector workers.

He, too, felt Ryan’ political involvement was incompatible with the goals of his union.

“There were issues going into the election,” he said. “My union does not back a particular party. We work with any of the parties that want to support labour.”

Sheppard said Ryan kept slamming the Liberals.

“My union is mostly in the energy sector and we have worked very closely with the government of the day on issues.”

Put in context, Ryan’s embarrassing gaffe on Sun News is just the last in a litany of goofs. The people closest to him were his first victims.

Ryan did not return phone calls or an e-mail for comment on this story.

See original here.

See “CUPE Boss Eyes Pension Fund” here.  

See the “Sid Ryan” archive here.