Thursday, July 26, 2018
Statement from the BC Building Trades on the new Community Benefits Agreement
It is inclusive, in that it provides hiring and training opportunities for local residents, Indigenous workers, women in the trades and apprentices.
It is open and fair, in that both union and non-union contractors are able to bid on projects and wage rates are known.
It protects workers by providing for coverage under a collective agreement for the duration of a project. Workers earn union wages and benefits and have access to union training and safety programs. In addition, union membership ensures workers doing the same job at the same level get the same wage.
Non-union contractors working on the project remain non-union. The workers under their supervision will receive union wages and benefits for the period of time they work on the project. (Yes, those workers will have to join the appropriate union after 30 days.) When the non-union contractor completes their contract, the non-union contractor leaves the project as it entered: non-union.
It prevents unionization from being used as an organizing tool; coverage for workers under a collective agreement ends when the project is completed.
It protects taxpayers by ensuring bids are competitive and projects provide good value for the money. For example, the Island Highway Project resulted in a more competitive bidding process, with the number of bids per contract at over five compared with other highway projects that had a 3.7 bid per contract record.
It modernizes construction in B.C. by employing a workforce model used successfully in jurisdictions throughout North America, including a US$28 billion building program within the Los Angeles Unified School District and the multi-billion-dollar construction program at Los Angeles International Airport.
The bottom line is that BC is facing a major skills shortage. Projects will be competing for workers in a very tight market. This agreement gives government guaranteed access to a stable labour pool, and that’s why these agreements are common in private industry like on the Kitimat Modernization Project and the John Hart dam.
Public construction, which has been plagued by massive cost overruns on projects like the Site C dam, the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the Port Mann Bridge, is finally going to be done right in B.C.
Contact the BC Building Trades office