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Union-run trucker school crashes

WINNIPEG, Man. - An audit has cleared a Winnipeg driver-training school of financial wrong-doing.No stealing of money was discovered, says the person who ordered the investigation after the school los...


DOWN IN THE DUMPS: An aggregate haulers' association held the key to the Teamsters getting government funding for the school.
DOWN IN THE DUMPS: An aggregate haulers' association held the key to the Teamsters getting government funding for the school.

WINNIPEG, Man. – An audit has cleared a Winnipeg driver-training school of financial wrong-doing.

No stealing of money was discovered, says the person who ordered the investigation after the school lost government funding following a board of directors power struggle.

“No blatant fraud or personal gain (was) going on,” says Wyman Sangster, a consultant and former RCMP officer hired by the Industrial Career Development Institute at the end of August.

Sangster was brought in after events over the summer led to a financial meltdown.

He is charged with getting the union-management run school “back on the proper business track that it had been set to do, which was put students in the class.”

The book keeping “was less than satisfactory,” Sangster says. “The reason I called the audit was that when I got here, you’d have (for example) a cheque with no invoice,” he says.

One invoice, for $17,300, had no record of what the funds were used for. In any event, “there had been some serious wounds opened up in the months prior to my arrival,” Sangster says.

“I guess it would have come down to a difference of opinion over who should have been running the school to begin with and how it was being run,” says Phil Brown, a spokesman for Teamsters Local 979.

But Garry Petryk, president of the Manitoba Independent Dump Truck Association (MIDTA), disagrees.

“The real reason that thing collapsed is because it was attempting to be union driven,” he says. The union , “would not allow us to be on the board of directors.,” Petryk says.

The Industrial Career Development Institute was set up as a unique labor-management run school after a 1998 assessment uncovered a need for Class 1 aggregate and pickup-and-delivery drivers in Winnipeg.

The school won funding from the Manitoba Department of Education and Training. According to the department’s executive director, Mary Lou Spangelo, the money was provided as part of a three-way agreement, one which required unemployed people needing jobs, employers with jobs to fill, and a school preparing students for the job.

“Whether you are a union or a trucking group, there has to be employers at the table, who are committing to taking the individuals on after the training,” she explains.

So if the people offering the jobs back out of the program – which is what MIDTA did after the union tried to take over-then the agreement is broken and the funding is withdrawn.

The eight-week program, which by August had produced two classes of about a dozen graduates each, had received at least $489,261 before the contract was terminated. The federal government also contributed a one-time $125,000 grant for computers and supplies.

Petryk says school directors fired David Tesarski, the program administrator, in August “because he was against union policies.”

Tesarski, when contacted by Truck News, refused to comment, citing pending litigation against his former employer.

“We’re trying to patch those feelings up between the groups, as well as bring the government back to the table to continue the funding in a different business plan, so they can be comfortable that they’re getting a good bang for the buck,” says Sangster.

“We will not be back, no. Not with what we’ve been through,” says Petryk. He would not, however, rule out the possibility of launching a similar program somewhere else.

Bob Dolyniuk, general manager of the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) says he is surprised the government put money into a school run by organized labor. He adds he is concerned about how ICDI’s problems and the controversy surrounding them have hurt the image of trucking.

“Especially considering that the employers within our industry have had a successful training partnership in place for so many years,” he says.n


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