Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher has received assurances from Aecon Group Inc. that the company’s practices with respect to the bargaining rights of the union will not be adversely impacted by its pending acquisition by CCCC International (CCCCI) Holding Ltd. of China.
Gallagher met with Aecon president and CEO John Beck on Nov. 13 and signed a Memorandum of Agreement that confirmed that collective agreements will be honoured and the relationship between the union and company will not change as a result of the sale.
“Aecon is an iconic Canadian construction company that is one of our largest employers,” Gallagher said. “Nearly 600 of our members are employed by the company and we were concerned as to how the acquisition would affect our members and relationship with Aecon.
“We have a long-standing and successful relationship with Aecon and I wanted to ensure that it continued going forward. I am pleased to report that this Memorandum of Understanding has been signed as it confirms our commitment to continue working together.”
Gallagher had been concerned about issues such as job security for Local 793 members and the hiring of Indigenous and northern peoples for projects in their communities. He wanted assurances that bargaining rights of Local 793 would not be affected, and a commitment to ensuring that programs to bring in foreign workers are not used if the sale is approved.
On Nov. 6, he met in Ottawa with a senior policy advisor from Industry Canada. The Nov. 13 meeting with Aecon CEO Beck was arranged to bring the union’s concerns to the table. Beck also signed a similar MOU the same day with IUOE Canadian director Lionel Railton.
Aecon, a Toronto-based publicly traded company, announced in August it was seeking a buyer so it could compete for larger projects. On Oct. 26, engineering and construction giant CCCCI said it had agreed to pay $20.37 per Aecon share to buy the company for $1.19 billion.
The company will continue to be headquartered in Canada.
The MOU with Local 793 lays out nine specific commitments by Aecon and the union.
For starters, the parties confirmed a mutual commitment to work together to achieve and maintain the high Canadian standards of corporate governance currently adhered to by Aecon.
The company also confirmed that its current treatment of, and practices with respect to, the bargaining rights of Local 793 will not be adversely impacted by the acquisition.
In the MOU, the parties also stated they mutually recognize the importance of continuity in both management and production workforces and the value of the retention of Aecon’s Canada-based employees.
Aecon also stated it remains committed to its established practice of working with and hiring Indigenous and northern peoples for projects in their communities, its participation in the Helmets to Hardhats program, and working with Local 793 on them and other similar employment initiatives.
The MOU also states that Aecon recognizes the job security interests of Local 793 and that the union will continue to supply Aecon with qualified Operating Engineers. In doing so, the company and union agreed to “work together to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the intra-company transfer program of the federal government are not utilized following the acquisition in a way at odds with the union security provisions of the collective agreements to which each employer is bound, or otherwise decreases the level of job security held by members of Local 793.”
Aecon also confirmed its core value commitment to a safety-first culture and continuing its historic embrace of Ontario-specific health and safety laws and regulations, including those pertaining to training and licensing requirements.
Meanwhile, Aecon agreed that, following the acquisition, it will keep Local 793 informed of major decisions in respect of future growth so the parties can promote positive outcomes while avoiding the potential of future conflict.
Both Aecon and the union agreed that the terms of the MOU be incorporated into the applicable collective agreements between each employer and Local 793, and that the contents of the MOU would not be used to create or expand the bargaining rights of Local 793 with any Aecon affiliates or subsidiary or between the employers.
It is important to note that the MOU does not prevent Local 793 from bringing related or successor employer actions against Aecon.
A number of regulatory approvals must be met before the takeover goes through. The offer requires government and regulatory approvals under the Investment Canada Act.