Coalition of B.C. Unions, Companies and Workers Denounce NDP’s Exclusionary CBAs

Victoria (Oct. 30, 2018) – Labour unions, workers and industry groups including the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), CLAC and Canada Works, the Council of Progressive Canadian Unions have come together in a united effort to roll back the NDP government’s backroom infrastructure deal. The new framework tramples on worker rights and forces taxpayers to pay a premium on billions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded construction projects across B.C.

“The NDP government’s so-called Community Benefits Agreement is a sham,” said Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA). “This lopsided deal comes at a high price for taxpayers with very few benefits, other than to line the pockets of the Building Trades Unions. It’s a snub to hardworking British Columbians.”

The B.C. government’s infrastructure rules grant the Building Trades Unions (who constitute a meager 15 percent of the province’s construction workforce) a labour monopoly on public projects. Membership in the BTUs is mandatory in order for workers to build taxpayer-funded projects in the province. This is an infringement of workers’ basic rights, including Freedom of Association guaranteed under the Charter of Rights.

“The premier has turned his back on 85 percent of the province’s construction workforce,” said Ryan Bruce, CLAC’s B.C. Manager of Government Relations. “Premier Horgan campaigned on the notion that his government would work for all British Columbians, so we are holding him at his word. We’re calling on the premier to drop this restrictive policy forcing unionization with the NDP’s select unions, and to treat all workers fairly and equally.”

Tom MacDonald, a CLAC member and Ledcor employee for 19 years has the following concerns with the government’s infrastructure rules:

“The NDP’s CBA would force me to join one of the Building Trades Unions with no assurance that I would be dispatched to the company I’ve helped build,” says MacDonald. “Horgan’s deal is unfair and ignores the importance of the relationship between a worker, their union and employer.”

Although companies are permitted to bid for contracts to build public infrastructure projects in B.C., their workforce is supplied through a crown corporation called B.C. Infrastructure Benefits Inc., of which many of the Building Trades Unions are signatory.

“Employers have no choice but to hire through the Building Trades hiring hall,” said Ken Baerg, Executive Director of Canada Works, the Council of Progressive Canadian Unions. “Severely limiting employers’ ability to bring in their own workforce is a backwards way of building that impacts productivity and ultimately increases project costs.“

Members of the coalition are urging the Horgan government to do what’s right: treat workers and local companies fairly, and ensure the public is getting good value on its infrastructure investments by scrapping its infrastructure rules.

PCA is the voice of progressive unionized employers in Canada’s construction industry. Our member companies are responsible for 40 percent of energy and natural resource construction projects in Alberta and British Columbia and are leaders in infrastructure construction across Canada. PCA member companies employ more than 25,000 skilled construction workers in Canada, represented primarily by CLAC.

CLAC, Formed in 1952, CLAC is a national union representing over 60,000 workers in almost every sector of the economy. Based on values of respect, dignity, and fairness, CLAC is committed to building better workplaces, better communities, and better lives. CLAC is a founding member of Canada Works and an affiliated member of the World Organization of Workers.

Canada Works, the Council of Progressive Canadian Unions, is a collaboration of leading labour unions – large and small, active in all sectors of the economy who share a passion for advancing positive, partnership-based labour relations that fosters shared prosperity through partnership, innovation and choice.

Contact: Danna O’Brien, 416-500-0699

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