No Holds Barred

From the factory floor to renegotiating NAFTA, challenging GM and defining a new kind of union for Canadians

by Jerry Dias

with Tim Harper

An engrossing, tell-all account of what it means to fight for workers' rights by a union leader whose approach to his work and to this book is the same — no holds barred.

Jerry Dias is a new kind of union leader, and he's the president of a new kind of union. Jerry tells the story of how he went from dropping out of first year university to facing down Donald Trump's treasury secretary and refusing to live with General Motors' ruthless decision to shut down Oshawa's iconic assembly plant.

Jerry describes his career as a union activist and his surprise election as president of the newly-formed Unifor, an organization with 300,000 members. His leadership style is unabashedly in your face — whether it's rivals in his own union, other union leaders, or company management. Jerry is a strong advocate of union political activity — but not as a no-questions-asked NDP loyalist.

When the federal Liberals invited him to advise on the NAFTA renegotiations with the Trump administration, he leapt at the chance to push for an agreement that took account of workers' interests. In his account we see Chrystia Freeland in action, as well as the US negotiators, with Trump cabinet members pulling strings.

During the same period, Unifor was negotiating with the big US auto manufacturers. Jerry and his union targeted GM, and won an agreement where GM committed to keeping the key Oshawa plant open to 2020. It seemed like a huge win at the time. Jerry describes the devastating developments that followed in late 2018, when GM renounced their agreement and announced the shutdown that many Unifor members always thought was in the cards.

About the Authors

JERRY DIAS is the son of Guyanese immigrants. He grew up in a union household, and started working at Toronto's De Havilland aircraft plant when he was twenty. He soon got active in the Canadian Auto Workers and ultimately went to work for the union fulltime. He was elected president of Unifor in 2013. He is married with four grown children and lives in Toronto, Ontario.

TIM HARPER has been a journalist for forty years, thirty-four of which were spent with The Toronto Star. He ran bureaus in Vancouver, Washington and Ottawa and spent more than five years writing a national affairs column syndicated from coast to coast. His previous book, coauthored with Alok Mukherjee, was Excessive Force, on the politics of the Toronto police force. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Subjects (BISAC)

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