Status of our Formwork Agreement

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Many of you have been asking about the status of our Formwork Agreement since Local 793 voted in favour of ratification, but our friends at Local 183 turned the offer down. Due to the fact that we are in a council with the Labourers Local Unions, including Local 183, and because […]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Many of you have been asking about the status of our Formwork Agreement since Local 793 voted in favour of ratification, but our friends at Local 183 turned the offer down. Due to the fact that we are in a council with the Labourers Local Unions, including Local 183, and because Local 183, along with 1059 and us have a “veto” on the council regarding ratifications and strikes, if one of either Local 793, 183 or 1059 fail to vote in favour of ratification, the entire Formwork Agreement remains unratified.

On Tuesday May 21, 2019 the Formwork Council of Ontario convened a meeting to discuss next steps. Local 793 voted in favor of supporting Local 183 members who wished to strike. Local 1059 out of London did not support strike action. Therefore, Local 183’s remaining issues are being submitted to final and binding arbitration. The arbitration will be held on June 14.

Since Local 793 members voted in favor of ratification, we proposed and the OFA agreed that our settlement will not be subject to the arbitration. They have agreed to this same protocol for all of the other LiUNA local unions. This means status quo for everyone except Local 183. It is vital that we protect our best in the industry settlement of $4.25 plus various language improvements. We cannot go backwards and we are not prepared to risk the possibility of losing retro pay.

We were in a similar position back in 2010 when the Labourers Local 183 turned down the proposed settlement. In 2010, the Labourers had a settlement on the table of $3.40 for labourers that was turned down and it went to arbitration. In that round of negotiations Local 793 achieved $3.75 for our Operators. Local 183 was seeking $4.00 from the arbitrator. The Arbitrator upheld the $3.40 settlement.

While it is not a perfect system, we have to navigate the system to the best of our abilities and our number one priority remains protecting our settlement and retro pay. Our focus for the next three years needs to be trying to find a way to overturn the archaic Labour Relations Act Provisions, which restrict our right to strike in the residential sector of the construction industry. Local 793 is committed to exploring all avenues to remove this barrier to a successful strike. As we learn further information, we will update the membership. In the meantime it is business as usual.

Fraternally,
Dave Turple • Director of Toronto Area
IUOE Local 793

Letter to the Editor

Following is a letter to the editor from Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher that was published in Daily Commercial News on Jan. 18, 2018. To The Editor: I would like to respond to a letter to the editor entitled “Allow Sault Ste. Marie to procure projects openly now, says CLAC,” that was in the […]

Following is a letter to the editor from Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher that was published in Daily Commercial News on Jan. 18, 2018.

To The Editor:

I would like to respond to a letter to the editor entitled “Allow Sault Ste. Marie to procure projects openly now, says CLAC,” that was in the Jan. 4, 2018 edition of the DCN.

As business manager of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), which represents nearly 15,000 crane and heavy equipment operators across the province, I find the letter offensive as it contains inaccuracies and doesn’t provide a true picture of the value-added benefits provided by building trades unions like ours.

The letter was highly critical of the tendering process in Sault Ste. Marie and contains misleading statements that need to be corrected.

The author of the letter implies only companies that have contracts with the Labourers’ or Carpenters’ are allowed to bid on city projects, but that is simply not the case. We do not have an agreement with the city, but companies that are signatory to Local 793 have bid on, and been successful in winning, municipal contracts.

The assertion that unionized construction is more costly is also absurd. The information came from Cardus, a think-tank co-founded by a former representative of CLAC. The fact of the matter is that unionized construction sites are much safer than non-union construction sites, therefore leading to fewer lost-time injuries and claims.

In 2015, a study done by the Institute for Work & Health that was funded by the Ontario Construction Secretariat found workers in unionized workplaces have 23 per cent less lost-time claims resulting in time off work than their non-union counterparts. Unionized workers were also almost 30 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries. The reason is unions do a better job of educating workers through apprenticeship skills training and have more effective health and safety programs and practices. The safety and efficiency benefits of using well-trained building trades unions may not appear on the balance sheet, but are financial benefits that can not be discounted.

Unions also bring value-added benefits to workers and communities. Provincial building trades unions like ours place a huge emphasis on educating and training members. Local 793, for example, has centres in Oakville and Morrisburg that provide top-notch training to apprentices and members. This training pays off in the form of safer and more efficient workers, which translates into lower accident rates. Having such training centres also helps address the issue of significant skills shortages in construction.

We also provide excellent pension and health benefits. The benefits are not for the unions themselves, but are for the members who are citizens of the Sault Ste. Marie community. More than two-thirds of Ontarians do not have a workplace pension. We take pension planning seriously and make sure we negotiate collective agreements that provide for our members in retirement. Presently, our pension plan assets are more than $2.5 billion.

Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, the City of Sault Ste. Marie is deemed a construction employer. However, the author of the letter suggests that be changed. The City of Toronto crossed the same bridge in 2008 and their own staff report indicated there would be a mere 1.7-per-cent savings to the city at most if they were deemed a non-construction employer and it was recommended it not be pursued at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Sault Ste. Marie should not attempt to change its status as a construction employer, as has been suggested in the letter. The city is a construction employer and it should stay that way, plain and simple.

Instead of spending tax dollars trying to get rid of building trades unions, the city perhaps should consider the real benefits of creating a level playing field in competitions for city work and follow the example of the province, federal government, Toronto, Hamilton, Oshawa, London and Thunder Bay in adopting its own Fair Wage Policy.

Sincerely,

Mike Gallagher
Business Manager
IUOE Local 793

OSWCA Praises Huge Government Water Spend

The following article appeared in Daily Commercial News Sept. 14 was a banner day for Ontario’s water and wastewater construction sector as the provincial government stepped up to announce new funding to supplement federal support previously earmarked for its new Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF). The result is $1.1 billion in joint federal, provincial and […]

The following article appeared in Daily Commercial News

Sept. 14 was a banner day for Ontario’s water and wastewater construction sector as the provincial government stepped up to announce new funding to supplement federal support previously earmarked for its new Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).

The result is $1.1 billion in joint federal, provincial and municipal spending on 41 Ontario water and wastewater projects, news that thrilled Giovanni Cautillo, executive director of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association (OSWCA).

The announcement was made by federal Minister of Infrastructure Amarjeet Sohi, provincial Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli and Toronto Mayor John Tory at Toronto’s Port Lands. The three levels of government will be spending $83 million on flood-protection measures in the area as part of the pre-development phase of the Port Lands.

Calling the news “fantastic,” Cautillo said the provincial portion of the spending was “found money.”

“It was not identified in the provincial budget,” he said. “It was unallocated money.

Click here to see rest of article

 

 

Pipeline Contractors Student Award Program

The Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada has a Student Award Program for sons, daughters or wards of a person whose principal income is derived from the pipeline construction industry. Deadline for applications is Oct. 14, 2016. Awards are offered each year for a student enrolled in a full-time program at a recognized Canadian accredited […]

The Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada has a Student Award Program for sons, daughters or wards of a person whose principal income is derived from the pipeline construction industry.

Deadline for applications is Oct. 14, 2016.

Awards are offered each year for a student enrolled in a full-time program at a recognized Canadian accredited postsecondary institution.

As mentioned above, to qualify, an applicant must be a son, daughter or ward of a person whose principal income is derived from the pipeline construction industry. The parent or guardian of the applicant must be employed by or have a history of employment with a company who is a member or partner of the Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada.

The applicant must provide proof of full-time enrollment in a program leading to a diploma or degree in any field at a recognized Canadian college or university. Applications received from students enrolled in post-graduate programs may also be considered.

Application forms need to be completed through the website at www.pipeline.ca awards section. For more information, please contact the Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada at 905-847-9383 or e-mail plcac@pipeline.ca.

Federal Budget Earmarks Money for Infrastructure

The federal budget tabled March 22 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau confirms that the government will make a historic investment of $120 billion over the next decade on infrastructure. As an immediate first step, the government will invest nearly $12 billion over five years in modern and reliable public transit, water and wastewater systems, affordable […]

The federal budget tabled March 22 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau confirms that the government will make a historic investment of $120 billion over the next decade on infrastructure.

As an immediate first step, the government will invest nearly $12 billion over five years in modern and reliable public transit, water and wastewater systems, affordable housing, and in retrofits and repairs to protect existing projects from the effects of climate change.

In the coming months, the government will lay out its longer-term priorities for renewing and modernizing Canada’s infrastructure.

Under the plan:

  • $3.4 billion will be spent over three years to upgrade and improve public transit systems across Canada;
  • $5 billion will be spent over five years for investments in water, wastewater and green infrastructure projects across Canada; and
  • $3.4 billion will be spent over five years for social infrastructure, including affordable housing, early learning and childcare, cultural and recreational infrastructure, and community healthcare facilities on reserves.

The Department of Finance estimates that these and other measures announced in the budget will raise the level of real gross domestic product by 0.5 per cent in the first year and by one per cent in the second year.

In addition to the new funding announced in the budget, the government will:

  • Continue to make available approximately $3 billion each year in dedicated funding for municipal infrastructure projects through the Gas Tax Fund and the incremental Goods and Services Tax Rebate for Municipalities;
  • Work with provincial, territorial and municipal partners to get projects underway, by accelerating spending from the $9 billion available under the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component and other existing infrastructure programs;
  • Transfer remaining uncommitted funds from older federal infrastructure programs to municipalities through the Gas Tax Fund in 2016–17 in order to ensure funds are directed towards municipal infrastructure priorities in the near term; and
  • Ensure that government institutions are aligned to best support infrastructure innovation, including by transferring responsibility for PPP Canada Inc. to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

The budget also proposes to provide $3.4 billion over the next five years to maintain and upgrade federal infrastructure assets such as national parks, small craft harbours, federal airports and border infrastructure. This funding will also support the cleanup of contaminated sites across the country.

Meanwhile, the government also promised in the budget to strengthen union-based apprenticeship training by providing $85.4 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to develop a new framework to support union-based apprenticeship training.

As well as improving the quality of training through investments in equipment, the framework will seek to incorporate greater union involvement in apprenticeship training and support innovative approaches and partnerships with other stakeholders, including employers.

WSIB Ahead of Schedule to Eliminate UFL

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WISB) is ahead of schedule to eliminate its unfunded liability. A statement on the matter was issued today (Nov. 9) by WSIB chair Elizabeth Witmer. Below is the statement. WSIB AHEAD OF SCHEDULE TO ELIMINATE UFL: WITMER Employer premium reductions, sustainable benefits for injured workers on the horizon TORONTO […]

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WISB) is ahead of schedule to eliminate its unfunded liability. A statement on the matter was issued today (Nov. 9) by WSIB chair Elizabeth Witmer. Below is the statement.

WSIB AHEAD OF SCHEDULE TO ELIMINATE UFL: WITMER

Employer premium reductions, sustainable benefits for injured workers on the horizon

TORONTO – Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is well ahead of a legislated timetable to reach financial sustainability, which will result in lower premiums paid by employers who fund the system and long-term security for the workers who depend on it, WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer announced today.

On current projections, the WSIB anticipates average rate reductions of between 10 and 15 per cent are possible over a five year period starting in 2017, according to the WSIB’s 2015 Economic Statement released Monday.

“In recent years, the WSIB has made great strides toward becoming more financially sustainable, transparent, responsive and accountable to the people we serve,” Witmer said. “As a result, we now expect to eliminate the unfunded liability, or ‘UFL’, by 2022 – five years ahead of the schedule required by law.”

The system’s UFL, Witmer explained, is the difference between future obligations to injured workers and the money currently on hand to pay for them.

“Fundamental changes to the WSIB’s business have brought the UFL down by nearly half, from a high of $14.1 billion in 2011 to $7.5 billion in early 2015 – all while maintaining benefit levels for injured workers and achieving the best health and safety outcomes in Canada,” Witmer added. Those changes include: safer workplaces; innovation in medical care and helping workers return to work; rising premium revenue and strong growth in the Investment Fund through the addition of operating surpluses, careful management and diversification.

“Once the burden of the UFL is gone, employer premiums will consist only of new claims and administrative costs,” Witmer said. “That’s an estimated average premium rate of $1.40 to $1.50 instead of the current average $2.46 per $100 of payroll, making Ontario one of the lowest cost jurisdictions in Canada.”

It means the WSIB will return over $2 billion annually to Ontario’s economy, and help Ontario employers become more competitive, Witmer concluded. “The job is not done. But we’re making good progress.”

Click here to visit the WSIB website.

Heat Stress Signs and Signals

Local 793 operators should be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illnesses during periods of especially hot weather. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety warns that heat-related illnesses can strike with little warning. Construction workers are especially susceptible because they’re often exposed to direct sunlight and humidity. Heat stress and exhaustion can […]

Local 793 operators should be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illnesses during periods of especially hot weather.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety warns that heat-related illnesses can strike with little warning.

Construction workers are especially susceptible because they’re often exposed to direct sunlight and humidity.

Heat stress and exhaustion can cause myriad problems from rashes and cramps to exhaustion and full-blown heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat stress can include sunburn, fainting, heavy sweating, headaches and dizzy spells.

It’s important, then, for operators as well as employers to prepare ahead of time, recognize symptoms of heat stress and know how to treat it when problems arise.

Heat stress occurs when the body can no longer maintain its normal temperature. The body’s internal thermostat maintains a constant inner temperature by pumping more blood to the skin and by increasing sweat production. But in very hot environments the body temperature can rise, resulting in heat stress. When the body can no longer cope, a number of illnesses can occur, including:

  • Heat Rash: This is characterized by tiny red spots on the skin that can cause a prickling sensation. It’s a result of inflammation when the ducts of sweat glands become plugged.
  • Heat Cramps: These are sharp pains in the muscles caused by an imbalance resulting from failure to replace salt lost with sweat.
  • Heat Exhaustion: This is caused by loss of body water and salt through excessive sweating. Symptoms include weakness, dizziness, visual disturbances, intense thirst, headaches, vomiting, muscle cramps and diarrhea.
  • Heat Stroke: This condition requires immediate medical attention and is characterized by an elevated body temperature. Signs of heat stroke include dry, hot skin, a high body temperature and complete or partial loss of consciousness.

Prolonged exposure to heat can cause other problems such as sleep disturbances and susceptibility to minor injuries and sicknesses.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour recommends that workers in a hot environment should try to drink a cup of water every 20 minutes and that workers also:

  • – avoid working in direct sunlight
  • – reduce the pace of work
  • – increase the number of breaks
  • – take breaks in a cool or shaded area
  • – schedule heavy work for cooler periods
  • – wear light-coloured clothing
  • – reduce the physical demands of work

Employers have a duty under clause 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This includes developing policies and procedures to protect workers in environments that are hot because of hot processes and/or weather.

Any Local 793 operators with concerns about employers not taking appropriate steps to help workers avoid heat stroke and exhaustion should contact their business rep.

Click here for more information about heat exhaustion and heat stroke from the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association.

Click here for more information from the Ontario government.

Ontario Budget Provides Funds for Infrastructure

This is a message from Local 793 Business Manager Mike Gallagher regarding the provincial and federal budgets released recently. The federal and provincial governments tabled their budgets this past week. The Ontario government stepped up to the plate big time by reaffirming that it’s going ahead with its plan to invest $130 billion in public infrastructure […]

This is a message from Local 793 Business Manager Mike Gallagher regarding the provincial and federal budgets released recently.

The federal and provincial governments tabled their budgets this past week.

The Ontario government stepped up to the plate big time by reaffirming that it’s going ahead with its plan to invest $130 billion in public infrastructure over 10 years, despite the fact it is under fiscal pressure.

It is also increasing funds dedicated for its Moving Ontario Forward plan by $2.6 billion, bringing funds for the initiative to a total of $31.5 billion over 10 years.

About $16 billion of the funds will be spent on transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) while $15 billion is earmarked for transportation and other priority infrastructure projects outside the GTHA.

This will mean jobs for the construction industry.

However, there were some negatives in the provincial budget.

Public service jobs may be impacted by the sale of Hydro One. While the government is going to limit any shareholder to 10 per cent so no one entity will control the company, there is uncertainty over jobs.

Current Hydro One chair Sandra Pupatello will soon be succeeded by David Denison, former president and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. It will be Denison’s job to get the utility primed for sale, and there’s the threat that could mean cutting jobs.

The budget also continues with the government’s policy of “net zero” wage increases for public sector employees, while the projected inflation rate is two per cent, so this is actually a pay reduction.

Unions are frustrated at the bargaining table. Already, we’ve seen strikes by high school teachers in Durham Region and more are threatening to hit the picket lines as a result of the wage freeze.

The wage freeze could have been avoided if the government had increased the corporate tax rate back to 14 per cent from 11.5 per cent.

As for beer sales in grocery stores, I don’t see it as a big deal. I would be disappointed, though, if it led to job reductions.

The federal budget, meanwhile, fell short on a number of fronts.

It was clearly an election budget, as it targeted niche sectors like seniors who traditionally come out to vote in high numbers and typically vote for Conservatives.

The government continued to reward businesses, promising to reduce the federal small-business tax rate to nine per cent from 11 per cent by 2019.

While the feds are projecting a surplus it’s being done because the government has reduced its contingency fund and sold its shares in General Motors and some government buildings.

As well, most of the new spending in the federal budget will not come into effect until 2017 or later, long after the election is over.

Evidence shows compulsory certification works

A letter by Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher on the benefits of compulsory certification appeared recently in Northern Life publication. In the letter, he notes that compulsory certification in 1978 for hoisting engineers has led to fewer fatalities in the trade. Click here to see the letter.

A letter by Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher on the benefits of compulsory certification appeared recently in Northern Life publication. In the letter, he notes that compulsory certification in 1978 for hoisting engineers has led to fewer fatalities in the trade.

Click here to see the letter.

BuildForce Releases Construction Outlook

BuildForce, a national, industry-led organization, has released an outlook which projects slower overall construction growth between 2015 and 2024 in Ontario. The report notes that major projects will start up, peak and wind down in some regions, while in others they will move more evenly across the period. Click here to view the report.

BuildForce, a national, industry-led organization, has released an outlook which projects slower overall construction growth between 2015 and 2024 in Ontario. The report notes that major projects will start up, peak and wind down in some regions, while in others they will move more evenly across the period.

Click here to view the report.