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

COVID-19: Quesnel council moves to electronic meetings

Video of council’s first electronic meeting is now available on the City of Quesnel’s website

COVID-19: MP Todd Doherty updates community

‘The next 14 days are critical,’ writes the Cariboo-Prince George MP

COVID-19: All sports fields and baseball fields in Quesnel now closed

City trails and parks remain open, but users must maintain social distancing space of two metres

Letter to the editor: ‘Do what you can when you can’

Bert de Vink shares some insight into life with dementia

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Most Read