CLAC representative Ryan Bruce (left) introduces B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and Vancouver Regional Construction Association president Fiona Famulak to speak at rally with workers at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 19, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Contractors, unions in court against B.C.’s union-only construction

Highway 1, Pattullo Bridge, Broadway subway hiring restricted

Independent contractors and unions left out of the B.C. government’s exclusive construction deal with the B.C. and Yukon Building Trades began a four-day hearing in B.C. Supreme Court Monday to challenge the deal.

The lawsuit challenges the NDP government’s requirement that project workers have to join one of 19 designated building trades unions to work on major projects, so far including Highway 1 widening work east of Kamloops, replacement of the Pattullo bridge from New Westminster to Surrey and the Broadway subway line in Vancouver.

“Forced unionization of this sort is an affront to one of the core values of the labour movement, a worker’s freedom to choose,” said Ken Baerg, director of labour relations for the Abbotsford-based Canada West Construction Union. “It’s a government that claims to be in touch with the working class that is denying workers this fundamental right.”

Canada West Construction Union and the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), which represents 14,000 trades people in B.C. work with members of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada. The legal challenge also includes the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA) and the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA).

“As an association that represents both union and open-shop companies, we know this government policy not only shuts out the majority of the construction workforce but also offloads significant risk to contractors,” VRCA president Fiona Famulak said. “This, together with the bureaucracy that’s been created to administer this antiquated labour model, unnecessarily inflates the costs of public projects by tens of millions of dollars that ultimately will be paid for by B.C. taxpayers.”

RELATED: Cost jumps 35% for Revelstoke highway widening

RELATED: Union construction competitive, BC Building Trades say

RELATED: B.C. unions expect gains from labour code changes

The John Horgan government set up a new corporation called B.C. Infrastructure Benefits to administer what it calls the “community benefits agreement” for the three projects. Running to more than 300 pages, the agreement details union hiring and dues collection, requiring employees to join one of the designated unions within 30 days.

On the fourth phase of Kicking Horse Canyon widening project for Highway 1, B.C. Infrastructure Benefits estimates the union agreement will add $35 million to the cost.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Vehicle found “burnt to a crisp” off of Hwy 5

Update from Clearwater RCMP detachment

One day, your way

Information about this year’s Terry Fox (virtual) Run

Two residents remember fundraising for Terry Fox

This year marks 40 years since Terry Fox first embarked from St.… Continue reading

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read