Vancouver (February 27, 2019) – The NDP government’s labour framework for building public infrastructure projects violates the rights of 85 percent of B.C.’s construction workforce and should be struck down, according to a coalition of British Columbia’s largest construction associations and progressive unions representing the vast majority of the province’s construction workforce. The legal proceedings begin today in the B.C. Supreme Court.
“Freezing 85 percent of construction workers out of taxpayer-funded projects is unfair, discriminatory and just plain wrong,” said Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association. “Clearly, the Horgan government will stop at nothing to reward its Building Trades union buddies, even if it means skirting the law.”
Currently, BTU membership is mandatory in order for workers to build public projects in B.C., even though the BTUs constitute just 15 percent of the province’s construction workforce.
“The Horgan government is robbing workers of their basic constitutional rights, including freedom of association,” said Ryan Bruce, B.C. Manager of Government Relations for CLAC. “Rather than giving workers the right to choose whether to belong to a union – and which union to belong to – this government has made the decision for them.”
“Being discriminated against based on the union I have chosen violates my rights and the rights of many of my fellow members,” said Dave Fuoco, a CLAC member with over 40 years experience in the construction industry. “How is it that a government that claims to stand up for workers’ rights is willing to violate our rights?”
The coalition is challenging the new procurement policy imposed by the NDP government.
“The Horgan government is exercising its authority for an illegal purpose,” argues Peter Gall, the lawyer representing the Coalition. “As a result, the constitutional rights of 85 percent of the province’s construction workers are being violated.”
B.C.’s framework for building public infrastructure is costly for workers and the public. This outdated construction model creates more red tape and bureaucracy, increasing construction costs by tens of millions of dollars for B.C. taxpayers.
Four construction associations (the British Columbia Construction Association, the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA), the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA)) and two progressive unions (Canada West Union and CLAC) representing 85% of B.C.’s construction workforce, have joined the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and several construction companies, professionals and workers in launching the lawsuit aimed at halting restrictive labour policies in B.C.’s construction industry.