Finally! A monument to tradespeople

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Why it is a big deal when someone has finally recognized that they need Building Trade Unions?

by Bob Blakely - Chief Executive Officer for Canada’s Building Trades Unions

So, what’s the big deal and why would anybody erect a monument to tradespeople? Are they just the folks who couldn’t cut it at university and need a way to keep out of the soup kitchen?

You might hear ill-informed people make these kinds of comments and they are giving opinions that their very limited knowledge entitles them to hold.

But the facts are readily available. The question is “Why is it taking so long for people to figure it out?”

Out crafts suffer from underexposure. Construction sites are fenced off and we disappear into them, do our work and then leave. By the time the public sees what we’ve done we’re long gone to the next job. The only real exposure most people get is on the way to work or an important appointment when they come face to face with the traffic flagger who is holding up the stop sign, an inconvenience of seconds.

Another reason is that there are no accurate construction role models on TV. Tradespeople are often portrayed as second-class folks in dead end jobs and married to Roseann! The other reason is, strangely enough, that we are wildly successful in what we do–bridges in Canada don’t fall down, boilers don’t blow up and pipes don’t leak. It is once again a case of out of sight out of mind.

Consider the day of a person who lives in a climate-controlled high rise condo overlooking Stanley Park. The electrically driven alarm clock rings precisely at seven and the automatic coffee maker begins to make coffee. Our person swings out of bed and walks across comfortable flooring to the en suite. Their business is done, teeth are brushed, and shower finished leaving enough time to enjoy the view for a couple of moments.

This person has been touched since before waking by the construction crafts. The high rise is stable and safe because of the work of the ironworker, carpenter, labourer, cement mason, crane operator, bricklayer and a few more that collaborated in building the structure. The climate control was achieved by some sort of mixture (depending on the heating system used) of the talents of the electrician, plumber, steamfitter, sheet metal mechanic, gasfitter, refrigeration mechanic and instrumentation mechanic. The view was enabled by the glazier or the ironworker. Safe electricity and potable safe water are also taken for granted. The flooring (depending on its makeup) came courtesy of the floorlayer. The weather was kept out by the skills of the plasterer, sheet metal worker, painter, insulator, pre-cast ironworker or carpenter–ISM lather. The elevator constructor allows for a safe descent to the parking garage, which has been built and maintained by the trades above and a few others like the surveyor and the non-destructive testing technician.

On the road, the now happy motorist is driving on roads and bridges built by the operating engineers, labourers, carpenters, ironworkers, bricklayers, and teamsters.

While at work, our person fires up his computer and it works, thanks to the fiber optic cable installed by the telephone electrician and with power that comes from not just the electrician and powerline technician but from a host of trades including some that our person has never even heard of before. It takes all the trades to construct a generating station and those that they have never heard of are paramount to the success and reliability of the grid–the boilermaker, millwright, insulator and steamfitter.

They have never thought that the trades working away from home need a home away from home and they are looked after by chefs, cooks, bakers, camp attendants, nurses and warehousemen.

The day has just begun and our person has been affected (favourably) by all of the trades and crafts in the Building Trades and many more.

This goes on every day without fail. We build their world and keep it running.

When the Oilers win the Stanley Cup it is in a facility we built and now maintain; when Parliament decides great things it is in a structure that we have built and re-built; when a skilled surgeon saves a life it is in an OR that we built and equipped with medical gas, light and computer links.

Quite simply there isn’t an activity that we are not involved in. Without us the system grinds to a halt. We are the glue that holds everything together, the backbone of Canadian Society. So that is why it is a very big deal when someone has finally recognized that they need us.

Congratulations to you, the stalwarts to whom the Construction Worker Monument is dedicated. It should never have taken so long!

For More Information: 

Contact the BC Building Trades office
(778) 397-2220

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