Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher wants to ensure contractors who hire unionized trades workers are treated fairly when bidding on projects tendered by Metrolinx.

He told an Oct. 22 meeting of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario that he is concerned too many non-union companies are getting to work on the projects.

“It is very unfair to the unionized contractors and the people represented here,” he told about 250 delegates at the meeting.

Gallagher made the comments following a presentation at the meeting by Bruce McCuaig, president and CEO of Metrolinx.

McCuaig said the agency has a 25-year master transportation plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and $14 billion has already been committed by municipalities and the provincial and federal governments.

He said the region, which now has six million people, will grow to 8.5 million by 2031 so the transportation system must be improved and commute times must be reduced.

To accomplish that, he said Metrolinx is investing in a number of construction projects, including an air rail link, 275 Go Transit projects, and subway extensions.

Gallagher thanked McCuaig for the update, but suggested that he should meet with the building trades to discuss the bidding process.

Gallagher said trades like Local 793 are concerned unionized contractors bidding on jobs are being passed over.

“We have an issue with that,” he said.

Gallagher noted that Local 793 has contributed approximately $100 million over the last 30 years to its training centres and that should be taken into account when contracts are awarded.

In making decisions on projects, he said Metrolinx needs to consider the union’s long-standing contribution to training and what types of benefits that training provides to Ontario.

He said officials at Metrolinx need to sit down with leaders of the building trades and discuss such matters.

Patrick Dillon, business manager of the provincial building trades, supported Gallagher’s comments.

He said the building trades train workers for the future and that should be taken into account when Metrolinx is considering bids.

The concern, he said, is that big multi-national firms will come in to do the jobs and then just leave with the profits.

“That does not do anything to sustain the contracting industry here in Ontario,” Dillon said.

McCuaig agreed that the bidding process is something that should be talked about, but he noted that the agency must follow provincial procurement policies.

He added that talks with the trades, though, would be something “very worthwhile and important to discuss.”