TAGHVA: UNIFOR President becoming more Trumpian by the day

Day by day Jerry Dias becomes more like Trump, and it may be the future for all political groups.

Jerry Dias, the President of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union and the successor to the now-defunct Canadian Auto Workers union, a union with over 310,000 members seems to rapidly be adapting what most on the left would consider the absolute worst aspects of Donald Trump.

Over the last year, Dias has actively used power politics to push individuals into *hopefully* accepting his terms.

For example has supported posting the video of scab workers online, in my opinion putting their lives at danger in an effort to scare them from continuing their employment by exposing their identities to thousands of angry individuals.

Dias has also interestingly declared himself and Unifor (the representative of Canada’s media unions) as the “Resistance” to Andrew Scheer, an individual not even in government.

Yet none of these things where as surprising as the response made by Dias when discussing Doug Ford and the recent closure of the GM plant in Oshawa, Ontario.

Here Dias responded with a simple statement.

“F*ck You.” 

Since then a spokesperson for Dias has apologized for swearing on live television, saying he was “worked up while addressing the GM Oshawa situation.”

GM is mothballing its Oshawa plant, while also shutting down production at four facilities in the U.S, including in Ohio and Michigan. GM plans to end 3,300 production jobs south of the border and do away with 8,000 salaried workers, all in the name of US$6 billion in savings by 2020.

These actions are all aggressive, they are impulsive, and they, for the most part, represent the same jam-packed kind of negotiation style put forward by the Trump government.

Dias has become such a paradoxical left-wing populist that at the same time that he campaigns against the steel and aluminum tariffs put forward by the United States while also campaigning to put the same kind of tariffs on Mexico in order to punish GM for its recent cuts.

“If Canada and the United States said to General Motors that we would slap 40 per cent tariffs on all of your exported vehicles from Mexico to Canada and the United States, you would get their attention very quickly,” Dias said.

According to the UNIFOR President, a tariff on Mexican-made imports would “get their attention immediately,” he said, even as he acknowledged the contradiction between taking on the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum while taking part in the exact same tactics.

“It sounds bold, it sounds aggressive, it’s not productive—but we’re dealing with a corporation that doesn’t care,” Dias said. “They’ve watched all this unfold, they listened for 15 months and they don’t care.”

Maybe Dias has adopted a UNIFOR first attitude, but one has to wonder how he can  attack the American President so intensely while adopting so many of what he and the left consider the worst of President Trump’s power and fear based tactics.

Or how much the Canadian population as a whole can believe in the actions taken by Dias when it is so obvious that his only priority is his members, and not the greater relationship between Canadians, global businesses, and our allies.

Members in the auto industry such as Flavio Volpe, president of the Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, have already come out targeting the paradoxical nature of putting forward this idea.

“You can’t be hoping for the benefits of the USMCA, fighting Section 232 tariffs and endorsing company-specific tariffs at the same time,” Volpe said in an interview available on the Huffington Post.

“Jerry is a very important and positive part of the Canadian automotive fight, but that tariff idea is wrong.”

Why is this intense shift to Trumpian tactics occurring, and is this perhaps the future of politics?

Here I believe there are three fundamental factors truly pushing these kinds of political decisions: the death of media monopoly control, the birth of a social media web that rewards consistently more partisan forms of messaging, and the need to get your message out regardless of cost.

For example, “UNIFOR Local 222, the branch that represents most of the unionized workers at Oshawa, stands to lose about 2,000 members — and $4 million in annual union dues — if the plant closes.”

That is plenty of incentive to make sure your message gets out there even if it takes a less … pleasant approach to message distribution.

On the political side those same needs largely exist, politicians stand to lose their careers, and to their base could look like they are not actively working to protect the interest they were elected on if they are not actively seen promoting those issues.

So once again politicians just like union reps are forced to compete to get their message heard, namely from their base and secondly from the opposition. For a large portion of history, the media served as the “moderating” force in many cases to most political forces.

Today that relationship truly does not exist. Political groups can with a small investment match on social media the entire engagement of mainstream news sites.

Political pages in most cases engage with even more people than mainstream news sites.

Given these factors when it comes to incentives to produce moderated content for mass consumption it simply does not exist. So almost all groups simply choose to bypass the system and post what will get engagement.

With all of this we may have to accept that politicians across the political spectrum will become more and more Trumpian by the day.

What do you think? Join the conversation by commenting below!

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