The IUOE Local 793 held a special executive board meeting at the Oakville Conference Centre in Oakville on Saturday, March 23.
The more than 125 attendees included area supervisors, business reps, staff, delegates, officers and honourary lifetime members.
Speakers shared that Local 793’s finances remain healthy following another record year, news of a tentative agreement at the Baffinland Iron Mines in Nunavut, and an update on negotiations for a new Provincial Collective Agreement.
The meeting opened on a somber note with president Joe Redshaw sharing news that brother Bob Baird had passed away earlier in the week.
Bob died on March 21 following an automobile accident in his hometown of Roblin, Ontario. He was 64 years old.
A moment of silence was held in Bob’s honour.
Spirits were lifted when business manager Mike Gallagher and president Redshaw recognized the recipients of the Kyle Knox Memorial Award.
Thomas Lintner was named the 2017 award winner and Al Sorbera won the 2018 honour.
Thomas was nominated by Darren Thompson of Aecon for his heroic actions in saving a man’s life at a hunting camp on November 10, 2017.
Director of Toronto area Dave Turple nominated Al for his rescue efforts in helping save a man trapped in a trench in Toronto’s north end on July 20, 2018.
The Kyle Knox Award was established in memory of Kyle Knox, a 24-year-old Local 793 crane apprentice who was killed when a drill rig collapsed at York University on October 11, 2011. The award recognizes a Local 793 member who has shown extraordinary bravery and initiative in rescuing another member, fellow worker or a member of the public.
Business manager Gallagher opened his report by stating that Local 793 is doing great on all fronts. He assured members that the union is in strong financial shape.
He reported that Local 793 had its best financial year ever in 2018, operating debt-free and continuing to grow the pension plan. He stated that the plan currently sits at $2.8 billion.
He pointed out that while the numbers will fluctuate year-to-year, the performance of the pension plan has shown 9.4 per cent gains over a 10-year period.
Business manager Gallagher also talked about the growth in membership.
He stated that the union is now 15,300 strong and credited the union’s investment into organizing for the growing numbers.
“The commitment to hiring more organizers was one of my platforms when I was re-elected in 2016,” Gallagher said. “We have done that; growing our team to 10 full-time organizers on staff. I look to bring that number up to 12,” he added.
Business manager Gallagher continued, saying the growth in organizing has also allowed the union to expand into the mining sector.
“I think we’re doing exactly the right thing at just the right time to be ready to move in and capitalize on some of that work,” Gallagher said of areas like Detour Gold in northeastern Ontario and Baffinland Iron Ore Mines in Nunavut.
In his remarks, business manager Gallagher said it was a great honour being selected to serve as Grand Marshal for the 2019 Toronto St. Patrick’s Day parade.
He commended the efforts of everyone who worked hard to ensure the event was a success and spoke of the pride he felt seeing joy and happiness on the faces of brothers and sisters and their families.
“I’ve never seen Local 793 as united as they are right now,” he said.
Business manager Gallagher spoke about the important year ahead in collective bargaining, not the least of which is the Provincial Collective Agreement.
He told the attendees that the union proposed a 17-page document highlighting how Local 793 could make the agreement better for both contractors and operators, but added that there was no progress in talks.
Business Manager Gallagher added that while talks haven’t broken off, he felt the union was spinning their tires.
“I have talked to the Labour Relations Board and we have scheduled a province-wide strike vote to solve these problems,” Gallagher announced to a round of applause.
He encouraged members to go back to their areas and tell all brothers and sisters to get out and vote.
“Give us the tools so that we can go and get you the agreement you need,” Gallagher said. “Tell members to come out in a show of force and show them what they’re tangling with. They have the tiger by the tail and they better not mess with us because we know how to shut it down, and we will.”
Business manager Gallagher ended his report commenting on the respect for operating engineers amongst other trades.
“They look to us as being leaders and that has given us a position of respect,” Gallagher said. “We’re going to hold onto that and keep growing this organization. As long as you give me the opportunity and the privilege to stand up here and lead you, I will never let you down on things like that.”
Director of Toronto area Dave Turple was given a round of applause when he announced Local 793 and Baffinland Iron Mines have signed a tentative agreement.
Following a short video presentation, Dave gave a detailed look into the history of Local 793 and the expansion into Nunavut, the Baffinland organizing drive and the timeline of the negotiations.
“There were 25 days of negotiations, 40 conference call meetings, and more than 250 documents exchanged. We did our homework,” Dave said.
Dave shared the improvements offered in the tentative collective agreement, and how they were developed from the key concerns brought forward by the more than 800 Baffinland employees.
Moving forward, a team of Local 793 representatives traveled to the Baffinland site this week, where they will hold a series of meetings over 21 consecutive days.
During these meetings the Operating Engineers Local 793 Bargaining Team will communicate with the more than 800 workers.
The team heading north includes director of Toronto area Dave Turple, director of operations Ken Lew, executive director of OETIO Harold McBride, director of marketing and indigenous affairs Carla St. Louis, legal counsel Steve Sagle, senior general council Kirsten Agrell, international representative AndréChénier, Ottawa supervisor Rick Kerr, Thunder Bay supervisor John Kelly, business representative Eric Giroux and Rod McKenzie, director of training at the OETIO Morrisburg campus.
Manager of organizing Kyle Schutte, business representative Gerry St. Jacques, and organizers Zach MacInnis, Tony Wark and Andrew Saunders will be at the Montréal–Mirabel International Airport to meet Baffinland employees as they leave for and return from Baffinland to answer questions and hand out our Update #3 communication and Easy-to-read guide to the Mutual Gains Bargaining Partnership Agreement between Baffinland Iron Ore Mines Corporation and International Union of Operating Engineers and IUOE Local 793.
Mike Scott, Local 793 Pipeline/EPSCA representative, began his remarks by acknowledging Larry Richard and the work he did as the previous EPSCA representative. Mike also acknowledged assistant EPSCA representative, Paul Marshall, in his new role.
Mike reported that the electrical power systems sector remains a steady source of employment for Local 793 members, with an abundance of work on the horizon.
He added that pipeline will remain consistent across the province in 2019.
Organizer manager Kyle Schutte updated members on the recent struggles and successes of organizing.
He highlighted the certification victory for Local 987 in Manitoba, where business manager Gallagher assigned Kyle and organizer Bob Brooks to help the local organize Crown Utilities Ltd.
Members applauded when Kyle announced that the 120-man unit is now signatory to Local 987.
Kyle also shared other certificate victories and many voluntary recognition agreements, like Detour Gold.
Kyle recognized the organizers’ efforts in putting on a lot of kilometres and being away from family for extended periods of time. He closed his report by sharing a long list of current organizing drives.
Last year was very busy for Local 793’s legal counsel team.
Labour relations manager Melissa Atkins-Mahaney reported that in 2018, there were 276 new files opened. Of those, 108 were grievances that were referred to Local 793’s labour relations.
While there are still plenty of ongoing files, Melissa reported that 31 settlements have been reached.
She added that 33 applications for certificates were filed in 2018. Of those, 20 new certificates were received, representing 259 new members to the union.
And 36 new voluntary recognition agreements were reached in 2018.
Melissa also commented on one of the biggest challenges the union faces in bargaining the Provincial Collective Agreement – the de-rating/manning issue.
She told members that labour relations will start hearing evidence on the de-rating of the Grove TMS 990E’s on April 2.
“We’re confident the labour board will see through this charade and rule in our favour,” Melissa said. “We look forward to the fireworks that are going to happen on April 2.”
Vice-president and government affairs representative Joe Dowdall gave a 100thanniversary committee report.
He commented that the union’s communication and IT department have been working on the development of a commemorative journal and have started to interview honourary members for the anniversary video that will be shown at the dinner-dance on Saturday December 7 at the newly expanded OE Banquet Hall.
Vice-president Dowdall pointed out that a total of 2,170 anniversary jackets were distributed to members who attended a monthly union meeting in 2018 and January of 2019. He thanked Leanne Tabar and Heather Hamer, from business manager Gallagher’s office, for all of their hard work in making sure that the jackets were mailed out to members.
He also mentioned giveaways in the current and upcoming months that will be handed out to members who attend a monthly meeting.
March: Car Flags
April: Key Chains
May: Ball Caps
June: Water Bottles
In closing, Local 793 area delegates reported on the work situation in different locations in Ontario, including Ian Copps (Sault Ste. Marie), Blair Doyle (St. Catharines), John Hoffren (Timmins), Mike Lavallee (Sudbury), Matt Loree (Cambridge), Andrew MacSween (Toronto), Steve Martin (Ottawa), Normand McLeod (Oshawa), Todd Moosberger (London), Dave Pepler (Thunder Bay), Mike Reynolds (Barrie), Chris Skillen (Belleville), Peter Sumandl (Toronto), Angelo Teti (Windsor), Salvatore Tuttolomondo (Hamilton) and Gord Vandevenne (Sarnia).