By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Over a year of controversy that had split the Ontario Taxi Workers Union, the new president of the organization hopes the problems are all behind them after the membership kicked out its president.
Last month the membership voted 95 per cent to get rid of polarizing president Ejaz Butt, after the union had impeached him last August, but was returned by an Ontario judge.
“He is officially not the president now,” said Ali Naimpoor, formerly the vice-president of OTWU, now the new president. “We don’t want him.”
Last August, the union impeached Butt and expelled him from the union. Butt at the time declared the board of directors dissolved and called for a new election. The board meanwhile passed a no-confidence motion and declared Butt impeached, throwing the entire membership into chaos.
Butt took legal action and in January 2014, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled the union’s board of directors didn’t follow the requirements of its constitution. The judge did not rule on any of the allegations against Butt.
On March 26 the membership held a referendum on Butt at the Barton Street union hall, and threw him out in a 95 per cent to 5 per cent vote.
“This will allow us to move forward,” said Naimpoor.
To ensure the vote was official, a representative of the Ontario Labour Relations Board oversaw the proceedings.
“Butt can’t make any excuses,” said Naimpoor. “He could go to court, but this is an internal union matter. I hope this ends the problems we’ve had. This is a democracy.”
Butt, though, who recently filed to run for mayor of Hamilton, said he remains the union president.
“There is a conflict,” he said. “The board is supported by the United Steelworkers Union. I’m the president of the tax union. I’m still fighting it.”
Butt was elected president of the union in 2011 along with a four-member executive and nine member board of directors.
Butt took action against the union when he discovered members of the bargaining team were receiving payments from the United Steelworkers.
The USW has a service agreement with the OTWU, which offers young unions experience and help in collective bargaining and other issues. The USW stated the payments were merely reimbursements for members for losing their salaries.
The OTWU was founded in 2009, and was certified by the Ontario Labour Relations Board as a trade union in 2011.