Local 793 Marks Day of Mourning

The time has come for employers and governments to join forces with unions and take concrete action to prevent any more workplace fatalities in Ontario. That was the overriding theme of remarks made by Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher at a morning ceremony at the union’s head office on April 28 to mark Canada’s […]

The time has come for employers and governments to join forces with unions and take concrete action to prevent any more workplace fatalities in Ontario.

That was the overriding theme of remarks made by Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher at a morning ceremony at the union’s head office on April 28 to mark Canada’s National Day of Mourning.

“When you know what should be done and it’s not done it’s extremely frustrating,” he told the audience gathered outside at a monument and memorial garden on the union property.

“Unless you take action and unless you have fines in place that are commiserate with the loss of life to families, and unless the owners that are involved that deliberately overlook safety hazards in the workplace are put in jail, then we’re going to continue to see this type of thing going on.”

Gallagher said the province talks about having a target of zero workplace deaths, which are fine-sounding words, but workplace deaths will continue to mount unless real action is taken.

“We’re going to be standing up here next year and the year after that and the year after that constantly talking about the fact that we have a zero target for deaths in the workplace.”

He said much more needs to be done than hanging flags at half-mast.

“If you kill a worker in the workplace due to negligence you should go to jail. The people that are involved in that negligence, that deliberately cut costs and overlook putting properly trained people or taking measures to keep people from unsafe situations or put pressure on workers to do work that is not safe should be punished with severe fines and also they should go to prison.”

Gallagher noted there were 16 construction deaths in Ontario in 2015 and already this year one worker was killed in Ottawa when ice from an excavation wall fell on him.

Workers had complained several times about ice buildup on the worksite, he said, yet the accident still happened.

“In my way of thinking there’s not a lot of work involved to take that ice away before subjecting workers to go down into an excavation and go to work with a large amount of ice hanging over top of them.”

Gallagher said no parent should be sending a son or daughter off to work, as if they were sending them off to war, and be forced to worry every minute if they will return at the end of the day.

“The time for action is now and we have to tell the powers that be, the politicians, the people that are in management, and the owners of companies, that they have to invest in their people and they have to protect their people.”

Gallagher called upon Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to enact and enforce laws to ensure that the people who are responsible for killing workers in the workplace pay the price behind bars.

“It’s not until we do that that we will actually have a safe workplace and can feel good about sending our children and our loved ones out to work, knowing that they will return at the end of the day.”

Gallagher said there is no reason in this day and age to have any workplace deaths.

He noted that Marc Normand, a 50-year-old Local 793 welder who was killed Nov. 2, 2015 when a pipe rolled off a loader and crushed him, died because an inexperienced worker who didn’t receive any training ended up operating a machine far superior to his skills without a journeyperson guiding him.

“I call upon all of our employers out there to join with us and support us in making sure that every worker that goes out there has the most qualifications that they can possibly have.”

Gallagher said the union has invested more than $100 million in training and wants to get compulsory certification for more heavy equipment trades to ensure that everybody operating machines is qualified.

He said the Operating Engineers will never stop trying to make worksites safer.

“We will work relentlessly to hold the feet to the fire of the powers that be to make sure we do not have to add any more names to this monument that’s here behind me. Let’s make the names that we added the last names that we added.”

Gallagher expressed his support for Bill 180 which has passed second reading in the Legislature and been referred to a standing committee. The Bill would raise awareness of workplace safety by seeing Canadian and Ontario flags at all government and public sector buildings across the province lowered to half-mast on April 28 each year.

“I truly feel that all of the elementary schools and the high schools, and the universities and the colleges and the trade schools, all of them should have their flags at half-mast, and more than that they should have a moment of silence and remember the workers who’ve died. We will be lobbying the government to make sure that recognition takes place for workers who have died on the job, just as it does for veterans on Remembrance Day.”

Gallagher noted it was fitting to hold the ceremony at the monument at head office as it was built to honour Local 793 members who’ve died as a result of a construction site accident or occupational illnesses.

Three names were added to the monument this year. They include:

  • John Hunt who died Sept. 2, 1980 at the age of 36. He was killed when he went into a building to get out of bad weather and the block structure collapsed.
  • Jamie Drew Davis who died July 12, 2015 at the age of 43. He died from complications from back surgery from an injury he suffered on the job.
  • Marc Normand who died Nov. 2, 2015 at the age of 50. He was killed at a road construction project in Unionville when a pipe rolled off a loader and crushed him.

 

Video presentation of the Day of Mourning ceremony held at IUOE Local 793 head office

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OETIO Receives Funds for New Equipment

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher was quoted in the following article that appeared recently in Daily Commercial News. With an aging workforce and infrastructure spending ramping up, the need to teach specialty skills such as crane and heavy equipment operation in Ontario has gone past talk and into crunch time. Mike Gallagher, Oakville, Ont. […]

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher was quoted in the following article that appeared recently in Daily Commercial News.

With an aging workforce and infrastructure spending ramping up, the need to teach specialty skills such as crane and heavy equipment operation in Ontario has gone past talk and into crunch time.

Mike Gallagher, Oakville, Ont. business manager of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), addressed the gravity of the situation recently as he welcomed funding for seven new pieces of heavy equipment worth close to $1.3 million for the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO) campuses in Morrisburg and Oakville.

The OETIO trains crane operators as well as heavy equipment operators who run dozers, backhoes and excavators but Gallagher said they are barely keeping up with demand.

There are currently 320 crane and tower apprentices training at the Oakville centre but research shows OETIO and the colleges who also train heavy equipment operators are in a race against time as the huge boomer generation reaches retirement age.

The average age of a journeyman mobile crane operator according to Ontario statistics compiled in 2012 was 50; even more pressing, the average tower crane operator was 58.

“We carefully monitor that,” said Gallagher. “We allow retirees to work for a certain amount of time after they retire but you can only keep working for so long at this trade, it is a physically demanding trade.”

“So the opportunity is there for young people considering a career.”

Click here to read full article

2016 Election Campaign Literature Rules

The union’s election committee has released rules about distribution of campaign literature during the 2016 union election. Click here to read the rules and a memo from Vince Prout, recording secretary of the election committee.

The union’s election committee has released rules about distribution of campaign literature during the 2016 union election.

Click here to read the rules and a memo from Vince Prout, recording secretary of the election committee.

Business Manager Tours NY Skyscraper Under Construction

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher and business rep Jeff Hewitt toured a residential skyscraper under construction at 220 Central Park South in New York City on April 5. The building, located in midtown Manhattan, is one of the tallest presently under construction in New York. It was designed by American architect Robert A.M. Stern. […]

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher and business rep Jeff Hewitt toured a residential skyscraper under construction at 220 Central Park South in New York City on April 5.

The building, located in midtown Manhattan, is one of the tallest presently under construction in New York.

It was designed by American architect Robert A.M. Stern.

There are two tower cranes on site. The building will have 65 floors and include 150 units. It is now 27 floors high.

It will be 1,000 feet when completed.

The building is being developed by Vornado. Completion is expected in 2016-17.

When completed, the tower will be the tenth tallest building in New York City, slightly shorter than Four World Trade Center.

Gallagher and Hewitt toured the site with IUOE Local 14 operators working for Pumpcrete. The Local 14 members from New York are operating tower concrete pumps for the building.

A trailer pump being used at the base of the residential tower was previously used on the Freedom Tower, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City.

The Local 14 operators included Mark Ferwerda, Mark Olcott and Ron Kirk.

Gallagher was in New York to attend a general executive board meeting of the IUOE. Hewitt was there to attend a session on business rep training.

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Local 793 Member Honoured for Saving Woman’s Life

Mike Pettipas, a 47-year member of Local 793, has been honoured for his heroic efforts in saving a woman’s life on Dec. 16, 2015. The Port Hope resident was presented with the Kyle Knox Memorial Award by Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher and members of the Knox family at a special executive board meeting […]

Mike Pettipas, a 47-year member of Local 793, has been honoured for his heroic efforts in saving a woman’s life on Dec. 16, 2015.

The Port Hope resident was presented with the Kyle Knox Memorial Award by Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher and members of the Knox family at a special executive board meeting of the union in Oakville on April 2.

Gallagher said the initiative and quick thinking of Pettipas saved the life of Grace Goheen, who had fallen and broken her hip in a secluded area and was exposed to the cold.

“It is most likely that Ms. Goheen would have died in the winter cold had it not been for Mike’s quick efforts.”

Gallagher said Pettipas had been hunting near Port Hope and throughout the day he kept hearing a strange cry. Around 4:30 p.m., he went to investigate and drove his pickup truck in the direction of the sounds.

When he got to a bridge that he couldn’t cross in his truck, Pettipas got out and saw his neighbour’s dog with a red glove in its mouth. He followed the dog through a kilometre of tall grass to a pond area where he found his neighbour, Ms. Goheen. The woman had fallen and broken her hip and was shaking uncontrollably.

The woman had released her dog because it was getting dark and she was worried that coyotes would attack the animal. Pettipas took off his hunting coat and vest and put them underneath and over the woman’s body. He then called his wife and asked her to direct an ambulance to the area.

Ms. Goheen recovered at Northumberland Hospital. She is still using crutches and has a brace on her right knee.

She spoke at the union meeting and noted she is still recovering from the ordeal.

She thanked Pettipas for saving her, saying, “Thank God that somebody was there for me.”

She also thanked business manager Gallagher and the union for inviting her to the award presentation.

Ms. Goheen said that in the past her dog, Skylar, hadn’t been too friendly to Pettipas, but on the day she fell must have realized he could help.

She noted it was a terrifying ordeal and if Pettipas hadn’t found her she probably wouldn’t have survived the night.

Pettipas also spoke at the union meeting and thanked the union officers for the award. He told those at the meeting that, “I was just doing my job.”

The Kyle Knox Memorial Award is named in memory of Kyle James Knox, a 24-year-old crane apprentice who was killed Oct. 11, 2011 when a drill rig collapsed at a subway construction site in Toronto. The award is given periodically to Local 793 members who exhibit extraordinary bravery and initiative in rescuing another member, fellow worker or a member of the public in a calamity.

Gallagher said he decided to establish the award after reading a newspaper article in which Kyle’s sister, Kendall, had been quoted as saying that Kyle had saved someone’s life on a construction site.

“It struck me that that spirit should be recognized going forward,” Gallagher said.

Several members of the Knox family attended the event, including Kyle’s mother, Sherry, his sister Kendall and her boyfriend Dustin Louth, and another sister Hanna and her husband Kyle Love.

The award was first presented in 2012 to Local 793 operators Ryan Blyth, Kirk Winter and David Tustin for their efforts at the accident in 2011 that killed Kyle Knox. They helped rescue another Local 793 member, Dan DeLuca, who was injured in the accident.

In 2013, the award was presented to Cedric LeBlanc of Ottawa, a Local 793 crane mechanic who came to the rescue of crane operator Jean Marc Legault who accidentally sliced his wrist in the cab of a crane 60 metres above the ground in downtown Ottawa and had to be rescued.

Local 793 is Doing Well: Gallagher

Local 793 is thriving but the officers will not rest on the laurels, business manager Mike Gallagher said at a special executive board meeting at head office in Oakville on April 2, 2016. “The union is in great financial shape and our membership numbers are growing,” he said, noting that the number of hours worked […]

Local 793 is thriving but the officers will not rest on the laurels, business manager Mike Gallagher said at a special executive board meeting at head office in Oakville on April 2, 2016.

“The union is in great financial shape and our membership numbers are growing,” he said, noting that the number of hours worked by members has also been increasing each year.

The union is getting stronger, he said, with membership now around 14,200, Gallagher said.

Total hours worked in 2015 totaled 19,918,517, 6.62 per cent higher than the previous year, he said, while consolidated members’ equity at the end of 2015 was $85,987,666, 12.6 per cent higher than the previous year.

Consolidated assets of the union, meanwhile, were $93,982,580 at the end of 2015, 14.6 per cent higher than the previous year, he said.

Gallagher said the pension fund is also healthy and trustees have done a very good job in challenging times. The fund earned 5.9 per cent in 2015 while the S&P/TSXComposite Index fell by 8.3 per cent.

He said the actuary has informed trustees that consent for unreduced pension at age 60 can be extended for another year to 2017.

The benefits plan is also doing well, Gallagher noted, collecting $68.8 million in 2015 and paying out $58.5 million in claims and expenses.

Trustees of the plan have decided to increase the dental coverage to $3,000 from $2,500, he said.

On the training front, Gallagher said the OETIO is successfully completing an $11-million expansion at the campus in Morrisburg and a 70-room dormitory should be ready by June.

“We have done all that without having to go to the bank and ask for money, which shows just how strong we are,” he said.

While Local 793 is in good shape, Gallagher said the officers are looking to the future and plan to continue growing the union by hiring more organizers.

“We have to keep on building. We have to keep on growing. If you look at our Constitution that’s what we have to keep on doing, going out and building our market share.”

Gallagher said he sees no reason why Local 793 can’t become as big as the IUOE local in California.

He pointed out that Local 793 has the most organizers on board ever and they are working to bring in more members.

When people go home at night to watch a hockey game, the organizers are often still out there doing their job, he said.

“There’s a lot of miles being put in by our organizers and our business reps.”

Gallagher told the meeting that he wants to keep bringing the benefits of unionization to the non-union sector.

“I’m not going to be satisfied until every worker out there has the advantage of belonging to this great organization.”

In addition to growing the numbers, Gallagher said he also wants to expand the union facilities.

Soon, he said, the union may build a 30-to-40-room dorm at the OETIO campus in Oakville and add more offices for training.

The union may also expand its banquet hall, he said, so it can accommodate 350 to 400 more people and allow it to be used for larger functions.

At the beginning of his remarks, Gallagher observed that Republican Donald Trump is attracting a lot of attention in the U.S. with his comments about building a wall on the country’s southern border and having Mexico pay for it.

Gallagher jokingly said he was thinking about building a wall around Local 793 and having CLAC pay for it.

Also at the meeting:

  • Gallagher announced that Ken Boyle, a 50-year member from Sarnia who served on the union’s executive board until his retirement in 2002, has been made an honourary lifetime member along with George Bennett, a 50-year member from Kerwood who served on the union’s election committee and presently is on the union’s insurance committee and Jack Redshaw Scholarship Committee.
  • Gallagher congratulated former Toronto area supervisor John Monti and London business rep Curtis Hynds on their retirements. Monti, a 40-year member, was on staff for 27 years and was union auditor. He was also a trustee on the Training Trust Fund and was a director and then president of the Local 793 Non-Profit Housing Corporation. Hynds, a 32-year member, was on staff for 17 years.