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

FVRD to reopen corporate office on a limited basis

Fraser Valley Regional District visitors will be screened and asked to maintain physical distancing

Cenotaph added to Abbotsford’s heritage registry

Memorial dates back to 1929; was relocated to Thunderbird Square in 2006

The Fraser Valley has been warming at a quicker rate than Vancouver. Why?

Implications for agriculture and humans as data suggests region is warming at a rapid rate

City staff recommend which four cannabis stores should get Abbotsford council’s OK

Plethora of applicants in central Abbotsford made location a key deciding fctor

‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

Most Read