On behalf of the officers and staff of IUOE Local 793, I would like to wish all union members and their families a happy and prosperous new year.
2016 was a very busy – and good year – for our union.
We successfully completed another union election in accordance with our constitution and I am pleased with the team that the members chose to lead our organization.
I am proud to say that our union continues to grow. We now have about 14,500 members – up from about 8,500 members 10 years ago.
Our pension plan remains healthy. It is earning good returns and now has assets of about $2.4 billion. Because the fund has grown, we plan to invest another $110 million in the OE Infrastructure Fund. The money will be invested in infrastructure projects across North America.
Our life and health benefits plan is also doing well. Over the last year, trustees and I made a number of improvements to the benefits available to active members and retirees.
For a complete list of new benefits, log in to the members section on our website at www.iuoelocal793.org, go to ‘union information’ and click on ‘business manager’s update.’
We are continually striving to make the plan better. In fact, I held the presses on printing the benefit book recently because we came up with another benefit for members and I wanted to make sure it was made known to operators and their families.
In March, trustees will consider starting an online wellness program for members and their families to be overseen by a doctor. As we get older, it is sometimes beneficial to have an expert that can help with diet, nutrition and the efficacy of our prescription drugs. I would like to hear your views on such a program prior to the trustee meeting.
We achieved industry-leading settlements in 2016 on the bargaining front without the need for strike action.
A report by the Ontario Construction Secretariat indicates we had the highest average collective agreement settlement of all trades in the ICI construction sector in 2016.
The average increase over three years for Local 793 operators was 7.3 per cent, or 2.4 per cent a year. The Ontario average was 4.8 per cent over three years, or 1.7 per cent a year.
Click here for more information on the report.
We completed an $11-million renovation at the OETIO campus in Morrisburg in the fall.
The OETIO now has a two-storey dormitory with 70 single-occupancy rooms. A full fitness area complements a gym on site and all the rooms in the dormitory have WiFi. Our members have a modern, state-of-the-art training facility they can be proud of.
We did the project on budget and without taking on any debt or dipping into our reserve fund. The training campus also didn’t lose any student hours as a result of the project.
We’ve also purchased a Liebherr 85 EC-B5 tower crane for the Oakville campus of the OETIO. The crane will enable us to train students in top- and bottom-climbing procedures. We are the only training centre that offers such training on tower cranes.
Click here for photos of the tower crane installation.
The executive board has approved a social media policy that was drawn up by staff and outside legal counsel and sets out how members should conduct themselves online.
The policy is aimed at protecting the privacy of Local 793 members.
Click here to view the policy.
In 2016, we continued with our outreach programs to Aboriginal communities in Ontario.
I signed a Statement of Partnership with the Chiefs of Ontario, which represent 133 First Nations communities in the province. By signing the document, Local 793, the OETIO and First Nations chiefs have agreed to work collaboratively and get Aboriginal people into pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and fee-payer training programs.
Click here for more information on the Statement.
Renewable Energy Alliance
This year, I spearheaded formation of the Renewable Energy Alliance of Ontario, a coalition of employers, labour and industry groups that is calling on the province to renew its commitment to producing energy via a mix of wind, solar, geothermal and hydro projects.
The province has cancelled about $3.8 in green power projects. The coalition submitted a brief to the Ministry of Energy in an effort to convince government that it’s important for Ontario to remain a leader in the investment and development of renewable energy.
Many people think that renewable energy is to blame for high electricity prices but the truth is increased prices are mostly the fault of service charges directly billed to consumers.
We must continue to invest in renewable energy projects and build on the early progress that has been established. Otherwise, Ontario will fall behind the rest of the world.
Click here to learn more about the alliance.
Local 793 members, active retirees in good standing and family members can now get a discount at GoodLife Fitness locations across the province.
We negotiated a discount that provides for an annual rate per member of $499 plus tax. A membership can also be purchased for ongoing bi-weekly payments of $24 plus tax.
The benefit is available for up to four family members of members or retirees as long as the eligible member is a participant of the local’s program with GoodLife. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-287-4631.
Click here to learn more about the discount.
Meanwhile, we distributed cards in the winter issue of Making Tracks that give Local 793 members, retirees and family members a 10-per-cent discount at Mark’s Work Warehouse.
Within a few weeks, I will also be announcing a new home and auto insurance program with TD Meloche Monnex.
As for the future, the officers and I will not be resting on our laurels.
In 2019 our union will celebrate its 100th anniversary and I intend to keep us moving forward.
A challenge is to ensure that new leaders are being groomed to fill vacancies created by retirements. It is imperative that we hire good people, train them properly and provide them with the knowledge they need to succeed. That is something we are doing now.
I want to make sure that those who are moving into leadership positions are passionate about the union. When I hire people, I seek people who are true believers in the labour movement. I want to make sure they are the right people to represent the good members that we have.
I plan to hire a dozen more organizers over the next three years, bringing the number to 22. That will be the most perhaps of any IUOE local in North America.
I also plan to increase training opportunities and bring the benefits of unionization to the far north and Nunavut.
We are the largest IUOE local in Canada but I see no reason why we can’t be the largest in North America.
We still have non-union contractors out there and workers who are not unionized so we must organize and bring them into the fold.
I also want to double the size of our banquet hall in Oakville. Presently, it can hold about 500 people but I want capacity for 1,000 so we can hold our 100th anniversary celebration in the hall.
I also plan to build a 40- to 50-room residence for students at the training campus in Oakville so our students can remain on campus instead of having to stay in nearby hotels.
In 2017, the officers and I intend to keep the momentum going. I look forward to reporting on the progress of our plans at future monthly and general membership meetings.
Again, all the best in the New Year.
IUOE Local 793