March 6, 2024

Brynn Bourke - Executive Director

Brynn Bourke – Executive Director

SAFETY. SECURITY. DIGNITY. We do a lot at the BC Building Trades, but in the end, almost all of it can be described by one of these three words. I reflect on them often. What can we do to ensure every single member is safe on the job and comes home at night whole and well? What can we do to protect good-paying, meaningful jobs in construction and secure future union-built projects? How can we ensure worker dignity, showcase the amazing work of our members, amplify their voices and celebrate the diverse people and skills across our trades? Campaigns like our call for flush toilets and improved sanitation were born from these questions. So too were many of the issues we’re covering in this issue of Tradetalk magazine.

One issue we’ve been taking on is improving access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers. It’s a challenge that most tradeswomen have experienced. Women’s bodies are shaped differently than men and require PPE that is specifically engineered for their bodies. Yet all too often, they’re left to adapt to unsuitable PPE. In 2024, it’s simply unacceptable to not have appropriate equipment available for workers. While this is a major concern for women in the trades, they aren’t the only ones being affected by inappropriate PPE. Our goal is to work with industry, government and manufacturers to do better. You can
read all about it in this magazine.

Protecting secure jobs in the building trades is a constant struggle. It is the nature of construction that we build ourselves out of work every time a project ends. We must also constantly fight against forces looking for the cheapest labour, the least expensive materials and the weakest regulations. In this issue, we talk about the underground economy’s impact on construction and what we’re doing to stop it.

In this issue, we also explore heat pumps and why it matters that we protect high-quality training and standards as government looks to scale up access to these systems. Our feature story looks into the historic undermining of our skilled trades training system and what is required to build back a qualified workforce in the face of high demand for more workers.

Finally, the last thread we’re touching on comes back to the issue of dignity. It’s not enough for our work to just be safe and secure. It must be meaningful.

Our members literally build B.C. and it is our job at the BC Building Trades to highlight and celebrate that fact. That is why Tradetalk was created over 25 years ago and it remains an essential part of our magazine. Most of the time, we tell positive stories about the people and the projects we’re building. This time, we bring some sad news with the passing of two giants of our movement: Joe Shayler and Gary Kroeker. They both did so much to improve the safety, security and dignity of our work. I hope you’ll take a moment to read more about them, the many issues they fought for — and that we continue to fight for — in this issue.

By Brynn Bourke
Executive Director