On Monday July 16, BC’s NDP government announced details of a highly controversial “Community Benefits Agreement” which goes far beyond the traditional CBA model.
In Fall 2018 BCCA met with regional members to share opinions on the potential impacts of the BC CBA. A summary is available for viewing, including remarks from the discussions and in-room polling results. Although most contractors feel very strongly that the CBA is not going to be productive for BC, BCCA is preparing policy recommendations intended to achieve desirable outcomes for the stated goals of local, non-traditional hiring and timely, on-budget public sector projects.
Here are some key points to be aware of:
- The CBA creates new Crown Corporation that will hire only union workers for construction of major public projects.
- All construction worker payroll and benefits will run through this government Crown Corporation.
- The Crown Corporation will be called “BC Infrastructure Benefits Inc.” (BCIB) and will be considered the Employer of all employees working under the scope of the CBA.
- Contractors must recognize the BCIB as the employer.
- Open-shop companies can bid on projects but their employees will be required to join a designated union (the newly-created “Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of BC”) after 30 days on the job.
- The Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of BC is a conglomerate of the International Building Trades Unions (BTU).
- The first two projects that will be procured this way are:
- The Pattullo Bridge replacement project is currently in RFQ (until September 27)
- Kamloops-Alberta Highway 1 expansion to four lanes
- The CBA is applied to all employees hired to perform construction work on the project including Owner Operators, and including employees of Contractors who provide Security Guard and Fire Prevention on the Site.
- The Employer (which is the newly created Crown Corporation, not the contractor) will contribute $0.32 for every hour a tradesperson works as follows:
- $0.02 per hour to the BC Construction Industry Rehabilitation Fund*
- $0.02 per hour to the Construction Industry Health and Safety Fund*
- $0.02 per hour to the BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council Skill Plan Fund*
- $0.01 per hour to the Jurisdictional Assignment Plan, which will determine which designated union shall receive the funds
- $0.25 per hour to the newly created union council, the Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of BC
*Information about these funds is not provided in the CBA
Note that while the CBA states the Employer/Crown Corporation shall contribute these payments, it is unclear if the original source of these funds is:
1) the worker
2) the contractor
3) the taxpayer
- The Employer/Crown Corporation will make dues deductions* and remit dues to the affiliated union.
*The CBA does not state the amount of dues to be paid, but simply that "Dues shall be deducted from the total compensation paid to the employee, at rates specified by the affiliated union"
- Union rules apply to all aspects of the employees work activity and compensation: wages, wage increases, hours of work, overtime, flex work week, meals, shifts, weather, call-ins, standby, vacations and holidays, etc.
- The Agreement requires that wages and benefits will be increased by 2% each year for six years, to 2024.
- All unions, even if they are not a member of the BC Building Trades, are bound by this agreement.
Premier Horgan claims this approach will support local hires, drive apprenticeship, training, and employment opportunities for women and indigenous people, that projects will run more safely, efficiently, and economically, and that there will only be a modest 4-7% increase in construction costs.
- BCCA does not support this CBA. It contravenes many of our Industry Policy Statements.
- While Community Benefit Agreements can have positive impacts when done properly and in partnership with industry, in this instance the name “CBA” is being co-opted to disguise a union labour agreement.
- We believe this CBA amounts to conscription of BC’s construction workforce into a designated union.
- This policy contravenes the obligation of government for fair, open and transparent procurement practices.
- If a set amount of money (e.g. $0.32 per hour) is paid as a result of the labour of a worker, then that worker is earning that money. If payment of those funds is made directly to a third party instead of the worker, the worker is still earning the funds - they are just not receiving them.
- BC’s construction industry is facing a skilled worker shortage: restricting and creating barriers to employment and project opportunities will make this problem worse.
- It is incorrect in today’s marketplace that union employers pay better, train more, offer better benefits packages, or prioritize safety more than open-shop employers.
- The CBA potentially violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees our rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to be treated equally.
- This CBA tips the balance of power away from union employers to the unions themselves, subsequently undermining the role of all employers in the construction industry, whether union or open-shop.
- By prescribing an annual wage and benefits increase of 2% per year, ever year until 2024, the Agreement sets industry wages for all construction employees.
- The CBA will result in greater expense to taxpayers.
What we're doing about it:
BCCA is taking four public actions concerning the controversial aspects of the government’s new policy:
- Deploying a grassroots letter writing campaign to the Premier, local MLAs and MPS. Take Action!
- Hosting a series of members-only Town Halls across BC.
- Filing a Petition in the Supreme Court of Canada (Pattullo Bridge Petition) on the grounds that the Building Trades Only Employment Requirement breaches the freedom of expression and association rights of construction workers by forcing them to join and pay dues as a condition of working on public construction projects, and the government’s stated objectives for this requirement do not justify the infringements of the Charter of Rights of construction workers.
- Submitting a policy recommendation to government that will propose more productive solutions for achieving the local and equity-seeking hiring goals, as well as timely and on-budget project outcomes.
“BCCA is a signatory to the Pattullo Bridge Petition because it’s imperative that industry act decisively and with unity in response to this action by government. Conscription of the construction workforce into designated unions as a condition of work on public projects is counter-productive to the health of our industry and our economy, and infringes on our rights and freedoms as Canadians. Construction employers across BC - regardless of labour affiliation - have let us know their grave concerns about this policy and we’re here to make sure it doesn’t move forward in its current form.”
- Chris Atchison, President
How you can get involved:
Join our grassroots letter writing campaign to tell Premier Horgan, your local MLAs, and the BC MP’s that represent our province in Ottawa that this CBA will not be accepted by our industry.
Save the date! BCCA’s members-only Town Hall Meetings this September...