On behalf of the officers, executive board and staff of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, I would like to wish all union members and families a Happy New Year.
As one year draws to a close and another begins, it’s time to take stock, reflect and plan for the future.
Looking back, 2017 was a very successful year for our local. We continue to grow and now have more than 14,500 members, making us the biggest Operating Engineers local in Canada.
Financially, the union is doing well. Our pension plan continues to grow and now has assets of more than $2.6 billion. The year-to-date unaudited gross return to Nov. 30, 2017 was about 8.8 per cent – well ahead of the six-per-cent needed for the plan to stay healthy.
The life and health benefits plan remains on solid footing and we introduced a health spending account of $400 which members can use to top-up current benefits.
Our organizers, meanwhile, were busy in 2017. As of Dec. 12, we’d signed 98 voluntary recognition agreements, bringing in 233 new bargaining unit employees. We also received 13 certificates from the Ontario Labour Relations Board, representing another 92 workers.
We continue to make organizing inroads with Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. in Nunavut. Our organizers have been meeting with employees of Baffinland and officials from the company have requested that some of their workers be trained at the OETIO in Morrisburg.
We signed a couple of important agreements in 2017 – one being a Mutual Co-operation Agreement with Local 183 of the Labourers’ International Union of North America. Based on reports from our business reps and area supervisors, the agreement has been working and our unions are working collaboratively on organizing and other activities.
We also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Aecon Group Inc., which is being purchased by CCCC International (CCCCI) Holding Ltd. of China. The agreement confirms that our collective agreements will be honoured and our relationship with Aecon will not change.
Like all good organizations, however, we are not content to rest on our laurels and are looking to the future. 2018 will be an equally exciting year for us, as we have a lot of irons in the fire.
We’re discussing plans for the 6.14 acres of property next to head office in Oakville that we purchased in the summer, and in the spring will begin expansion of the OE Banquet Hall in Oakville. When completed, it will be 70 per cent larger with capacity for 1,000 people.
We also intend build a student residence on our property in Oakville to accommodate apprentices and members who train at the OETIO. Presently, they must stay at area hotels.
In an effort to provide better service to our members, trustees of the Pension and Life & Health Benefits trust funds have agreed to move forward on an ambitious plan to self-administer the funds. This isn’t a reflection in any way on the staff at Global Benefits whom we have worked with, and received excellent service from, for so many years. Rather, it is reflective of our growth and the desire to have all the services of pension and benefits at our head office property in Oakville. I expect it will take about two years to implement this ambitious changeover and details will be provided as they become available.
On the political front, a provincial election will be held in the spring. We have worked co-operatively with the Liberals on issues like mandatory training for drill rig operators and ensuring renewable energy projects remain part of the plan going forward. In the run-up to the election, we will be working to make Local 793 members aware of the facts so they are not swayed by misinformation.
In the coming year, we will also be preparing for the 100th anniversary of our union in 2019. We intend to hold picnics and events in various districts and will be selling special anniversary items such as pocket watches, rings, key chains, lapel pins and belt buckles on our website.
So yes, 2018 should be an exciting year.
I would like to thank all members for their support over the last year and wish you all the best in the New Year.
The officers and I intend to keep Local 793 growing so that we can continue to better the lives of our members and their families
I look forward to reporting on the progress of our union and plans at future monthly and general membership meetings.
IUOE Local 793