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 leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Barriere council begins 2020 budget talks

Next 2020 budget meeting to be held March 2. Public is welcome to attend.

Kamloops RCMP look for man who may have been heading to 100 Mile House

Rudolph “Rudy” Kobzey was planning to head to 100 Mile House to visit a friend

Clearwater mayor unimpressed with Forest Minister’s inaction on local tenure transfer

Mayor Merlin Blackwell says he’s ready to lead delegation to Victoria

Valley Voice: Remembering the tools of yesteryear

Barriere and District Heritage Society talks about a few mundane modern tasks that were once laborous and time consuming

RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Explicit Greta sticker linked to Alberta company draws outrage

The sticker includes the logo of Red Deer-based X-Site Energy Services

Share Now, formerly Car2Go, leaves Canada with valuable data in changing market: expert

Vancouver was its largest market in North America, with more than 300,000 customers

Off-duty RCMP officer helps catch Cache Creek car thief

‘This is just one example of how we are always ready to respond to emergencies’

What’s happening: Coronavirus forges on, as world hunts solutions

Japan closes all elementary, middle and high schools until spring holidays in late March

Most Read