Monday, August 27, 2018
Several business groups have filed a petition in BC Supreme Court today to have the court declare the “Building Trades only” requirement in the new Community Benefits framework a Charter infringement. This action reeks of politics.
For clarification, we note that both union and non-union contractors may bid on public infrastructure contracts under a Community Benefits Agreement, with workers on the job for 30 days being required to join an appropriate union.
This “union-only” provision cannot be used as an organizing tool, and so union membership only extends for the duration of the project. Membership in the union ensures workers are paid union wages and benefits and have access to union training opportunities.
This is the same practice that has been going on for decades in British Columbia under Project Labour Agreements between the Allied Hydro Council and, for example, Columbia Hydro Constructors. These agreements, enacted under previous Liberal and Social Credit governments, also require membership in an appropriate union within 30 days of being hired.
Business groups have elected to challenge the Community Benefits framework put in place under the NDP government. They have not challenged the agreements put in place under the Liberal and Social Credit governments containing the same union-only membership requirements.
This challenge is a political statement.
A five-year court battle between the Merit Contractors’ Association and Manitoba Hydro over requiring contractors to join unions in order to work on public projects ended last year in Merit’s case being rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada, and Manitoba Hydro and other defendants being awarded costs.
We look forward to the court’s ruling on this matter here in B.C.
BC Building Trades
Contact the BC Building Trades office