May 25, 2021
WANTED: TALENTED TRADESPEOPLE who enjoy fair wages, appreciate great benefits and want to work for reputable contractors.
That’s the message from a number of B.C. construction unions as they ramp up for both small and large upcoming projects.
“We are definitely busy,” said Jim Lofty, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 213.
Filling job line calls around the Christmas holidays is often a challenge, but it’s rare for IBEW 213 to be this far into a new year trying to recruit experienced non-members, said Lofty.
Lofty’s local is far from alone. A number of construction unions, including the BC Regional Council of Carpenters (BCRCC), the Labourers International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 1611 and the BC Insulators Local 118, are also in the midst of recruitment drives in order to meet the needs of signatory contractors.
“It’s really an ideal time to be an insulator,” said BC Insulators Local 118 business manager Neil Munro. “We have opportunities for journeys, apprentices and green hires in commercial and industrial work.”
Munro’s members have worked on some major and iconic projects, from the Richmond Olympic Oval and the futuristic Vancouver House to Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial hospitals. Modern-day insulators are known as “the energy conservation specialists” helping to reduce the world’s carbon footprint.
Munro says the union has had much success partnering with the BC Centre for Women in the Trades to train and place women in careers, however there are many more opportunities to fill.
LiUNA 1611’s recruitment strategy emphasizes the union’s work not only servicing its members with generous wage, benefit and pension packages, but helping in the community, too, said business manager Nav Malhotra. For example, LiUNA and its signatory contractors donated more than $180,000 to various organizations in need last year.
“When you join LiUNA, you gain a career and you become part of our family,” said Malhotra. “We take care of our members and we also help where we can in our communities.”
BCRCC is highlighting the progressive values of today’s contractors and collective agreements as it reaches out to recruit new members. Executive secretary treasurer Hamish Stewart points out hiring priorities that honour diversity, inclusion, training and safety like no other time in history.
“It’s an amazing time to be a tradesperson in the unionized construction sector in B.C.,” said Stewart.
He points to the B.C. government’s Community Benefits Agreement on public infrastructure projects, which prioritizes training and opportunities for local resident, apprentices, Indigenous workers and women in the trades.
The values are increasingly reflected outside public projects as well.
“Our contractors are embracing progressive values, such as mentorship, with supervisors increasingly taking on roles as coaches to bring workers along,” said Stewart.
Meanwhile, all Building Trades-affiliated unions also offer free drug and alcohol counselling through the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan, which is a partnership between the unions and contractors.
Back at IBEW 213, Lofty is asking qualified Red Seal journeyperson electricians to apply at the hall; these prospective new members should visit the Become A Member section on ibew213.org and submit an application package.
While work isn’t an absolute guarantee, opportunities are abundant with even more work on the near horizon.
“Those clamoring for good electricians are some of our biggest signatory contractors who will find ways to retain good workers,” said Lofty. “The hall can get you the opportunity to prove yourself; what you do with it is up to you.”
With files from Todd Nickel and Travis Tambone.