Smokey Thomas denies allegations of misconduct

Statements follows $6-million lawsuit filed by OPSEU

Smokey Thomas denies allegations of misconduct

Warren (Smokey) Thomas is rejecting a claim made against him by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) regarding misconduct and misuse of funds.

The Statement of Claim against the former president of OPSEU and two others is “riddled with errors, falsehoods and untrue allegations,” says a statement from the law firm Massey on Thomas’ behalf.

“Thomas rejects the claim against him and intends to defend his good name.”

OPSEU has announced it is suing three former executives at the union in a lawsuit worth $6 million. The union claims that Thomas and two other executives enriched themselves unjustly using the union's money and assets during their time as executives, according to a CBC report.

"They abused the power and authority that the union's membership bestowed upon them and violated the trust that the union's membership placed in them," reads the union’s Statement of Claim filed Jan. 16 in the Ontario Superior Court.

The allegations have not been tested in court.

Last year, Unifor launched legal action against Jerry Dias, its former president, who allegedly engaged in a breach of the union constitution. Dias pressured his assistant to drop the complaint filed against him, according to a third-party report released in July 2022.

Through his lawyers, Thomas is reviewing all legal options available to him and will respond, says the law firm.

“Until Mr. Thomas files a defence, he will make no further comment about the bogus claims against him or the motives and politics behind it.”

Specifics of claim

The lawsuit stemmed from a forensic audit the union conducted under its new leadership, says JP Hornick, current president of OPSEU/SEFPO, in a letter addressed to union members and staff.

“We moved forward with the forensic audit following our new board’s election in April after our new first vice president/treasurer and I started to get our heads around our current financial position, including a review of contracts, financial statements, and the books overall. Through that process, numerous concerns came to light that required further third-party scrutiny.”

These concerns include allegations of improper compensation and payouts for "lieu days" designed to compensate for working on the weekend or statutory holidays, and improper expenses on their corporate credit cards, which the union paid on their behalf according to the CBC.

OPSEU also alleges that union money was used to pay the home repairs and moving expenses of one of the executive’s associates. They also are accused of transferring ownership of vehicles registered to the union to themselves, family members or acquaintances, and claiming expenses on their behalf for non-business-related purposes.

Thomas served as the union’s president for seven terms over 15 years while the two other executives were first vice-president/treasurer and administrator of financial services.

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