Auto analysts say Windsor-Essex’s auto sector to stay robust regardless of Cassidy shedding out on Unifor Nationwide presidency

Despite Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy being unsuccessful in his effort to become the union’s national president, industry experts say Windsor-Essex’s auto sector should not see any negative consequences to a non-local candidate losing out on the top post.

On Thursday, Unifor delegates voted to name Lana Payne, the union’s former secretary-treasurer, as national president. She was one of three candidates vying to replace Jerry Dias who stepped down earlier this year amid an investigation into an alleged kickback he received from a company supplying COVID-19 rapid test kits.

Payne defeated Dias’ former assistant Scott Doherty, along with Cassidy, for the post.

But despite the decision, former CAW president Ken Lewenza said the auto sector in Windsor-Essex will be advocated for at the same level as when Dias was president, no matter who is leading the union.

The union was formed out of Windsor. It came out of the Kelsey Hayes facility,” said Lewenza.

“We have incredible influence on the procedures and processes and policies of the National Executive Board in the union.”

Greg Layson, editor for Automotive News Canada, said he did not like Cassidy’s chances of coming out victorious going into the vote, pointing to the other two candidates’ history at the national level.

“What the new president needs to be, and I will stand by this, is essentially a politician and a negotiator, first and foremost,” said Layson.

Despite the current controversy surrounding Dias, added Layson, he said a lot of good things happened for Windsor-Essex during his run as Unifor National President — and that should continue even with someone leading the union who is not local to the region.

“It’s not the end of the world for automotive and it’s not the end of the world for Windsor, in terms of its number one industry and economic driver,” said Layson.

With her victory, Payne has become the first woman to lead a large national private sector union in Canada. Uniform represents about 315,000 workers across the country.

CTV News reached out to Dave Cassidy for his reaction to the election results but did not receive a response by publication time.

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