Ontario PC Party leader Tim Hudak may have backed off on right-to-work (RTW) proposals but he still can’t be trusted.
That was one of the messages Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher delivered in remarks at a special executive board meeting in the union banquet hall March 22.
Gallagher said Hudak has bounced back and forth on RTW, announcing recently that he’s backtracking on an earlier white paper that proposed the idea.
However, Gallagher added, “I can tell you there’s enough other garbage in his white paper that even without that, there’s enough to do damage to the union.”
Hudak has been touting his RTW plan since 2012, telling Toronto’s Economic Club last December that he would implement the proposals. He dumped Essex candidate Dave Brister who challenged him on the policy.
Recently though, he told a business breakfast in Toronto that he would not undo the Rand formula. His climbdown came only after the Tories failed to win a crucial byelection in Niagara Falls near his own riding.
Gallagher said if the Tories are elected, it wouldn’t be good for Ontario.
Workers in RTW states in the U.S. make about $5,700 less than workers in Ontario, he said, and if the Tories take over the balance in labour relations will be upset, resulting in fights with contractors.
The trades have done well with infrastructure under the Liberal government, he said, and although the party was criticized for the gas plant cancellation in Oakville the money lost there is nowhere near the money wasted by Mike Harris when the Tories gave away Highway 407 to a private company.
The cost to Ontario for that giveaway, he noted, was about $108 billion when the land and future highway tolls are taken into consideration.
Gallagher touched on a number of topics in his remarks.
He said 2014 is the 95th anniversary of the union and a number of events are planned, culminating with a dinner-dance at The Royal York Hotel in Toronto on Dec. 6.
He encouraged members and their families to get involved and attend the activities.
“Come out and celebrate our great local,” he said.
On the financial front, Gallagher said the union is in good shape with $68 million in members’ equity as of Dec. 31, 2013, and is a leader in the industry.
He said the union plans to spend about $10 million this year on improving its facilities, with most of that earmarked for the OETIO campus in Morrisburg.
Renovations are planned at the Morrisburg campus later this year, he said. Rooms at the OETIO are double occupancy and once the renovations are complete there will be single occupancy accommodations.
The plan, he said, is to demolish a wing of the existing building and erect a two-storey, 70-room facility and also add a store.
The OETIO, he said, is successful and it’s time to invest in the facility.
The union also plans to replace the carpet in the banquet hall with carpet tiles at a cost of $37,000.
Gallagher said if work levels remain strong the union hopes to expand the banquet hall before its 100th anniversary in 2019, and the flooring in the addition will be matched by merely adding carpet tiles.
Meanwhile, Gallagher said, the union is looking at building rooms for apprentices at the OETIO campus in Oakville so trainees don’t have to stay in hotels.
Money earmarked for the hotels would go to the union.
Also at the meeting: President Joe Redshaw thanked the committee that dealt with changes to the union’s bylaws.
He said the committee was appointed in November 2013 and took proposals at meetings early in 2014. A mailout was done and ballots were counted on Feb. 18 and the results were posted in the spring issue of 793 Operator.
He said there was overwhelming support for the bylaw changes. Redshaw said the bylaws have been approved by IUOE General President James T. Callahan and new booklets will be sent soon to area offices.
EPSCA business rep Larry Richard reported that up to 100 operators are still employed at the Lower Mattagami hydroelectric generating project.
He noted that letters have been sent to contractors about earlier wage increases that were approved in EPSCA contracts.
He said operators at Darlington are busy with a number of projects, one being building new roads.
At Pickering, he said, the plant is scheduled to be shut down in 2021 and the property restored to its original state.
OETIO executive director Harold McBride reported that the training campuses in Oakville and Morrisburg are extremely busy, as more people are being trained to replace retiring members.
He noted that 207 to 304 members are expected to retire in 2014 and the union needs to bring young people into the trades. 2