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Unifor president Dias has had quite the year

When 2016 started, veteran observers of the Canadian automobile industry were convinced it would end badly, that one or more strikes against the Big Three automakers would materialize along with more job losses. But, as the year ends, all is well. Contracts negotiated and signed between General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Unifor — a trade union incorporating the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada — included specific employment guarantees as well as increased investment in auto manufacturing plants around Ontario.For this, Jerry Dias, 58, president of Unifor, has been selected as Toronto Star Wheels’ Newsmaker of the Year. In being named to this Honour Roll, he joins Sergio Marchionne, Canadian-educated CEO of FCA who was successful in improving the financial health of the two companies; singer Neil Young for promoting the use of alternative fuels; Carlo Fidani, Ron Fellows and Myles Brandt for much-needed improvements at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and Multimatic Engineering of Markham for contributions in general to all facets of the auto industry. I caught up with Dias recently for a chat about the past year, his career, automaking in general, and politics. Among his observations:Article Continued BelowHe was confident of success in all three negotiations but was afraid there would be a strike at GM;He thinks the time is right for more government investment that would create thousands of jobs;The future looks bright for the labour movement as more people suffer as a result of globalization.

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