Friday, June 08, 2018
Let’s build B.C. better.
That’s the consensus from the Community Benefits Coalition of BC, an alliance of labour and local companies who believe public infrastructure projects could do a better job of investing in communities.
Initiated by the BC Building Trades (BCBT), its union affiliates and local companies, the coalition was created this spring with a mission to ensure public projects that are built in B.C. provide opportunities to qualified local residents, apprentices, Indigenous workers and women in the trades.
Such provisions can be secured through formal Community Benefits Agreements, or CBAs.
“Embedding these types of community benefits in public infrastructure projects have been in place in North America for almost 20 years,” said BCBT executive director Tom Sigurdson. “Cities like Los Angeles and Portland have found that the fair wages earned by workers are reinvested in local communities, and workers benefit from a legacy of experience, skills training and employability.”
In addition to hiring provisions favouring underrepresented groups, CBAs also ensure workers earn fair wages, and that there aren’t any work stoppages for the duration of the agreement.
Sigurdson said CBAs should be attractive to governments because they also create legacies to communities in the form of skills training, employability and community investment.
“Workers have the opportunity to help build and invest in their own communities.”
Through apprentice hiring provisions, in particular, CBAs will help B.C. manage the pending skilled trades shortage. The Industry Training Authority predicts some 100,000 direct skilled trade job openings in B.C. in the next 10 years.
“The truth is, without CBAs, unscrupulous contractors could hire workers from outside of B.C. and perhaps even outside of Canada,” said BCBT president Dave Holmes. “It happened with construction of the Canada Line – workers were brought in from Latin America and paid $3.89 per hour.”
For more information on the Community Benefits Coalition of BC, visit letsbuildbc.ca and register for regular campaign updates. You can also follow the coalition on Twitter at @BenefitsForBC.
Contact the BC Building Trades office