Opposition MPs teamed up to frustrate the B.C. government’s effort to allow construction union ‘raids’ every summer when the NDP was in the minority three years ago, but they won’t. could only question the costs and consequences when the amendments were passed by the BC Legislative Assembly this week.
Prince George-Mackenzie MP Mike Morris asked why the NDP was so determined to give construction unions annual raiding rights, after projects like the Port Mann Bridge and the Canada Line in Vancouver were successfully built without strict union rules. He linked that effort to the NDP’s restriction of major public construction to 19 favored unions that have long backed their party.
“Is it to bring more unions into the government-sanctioned union realm?” Morris asked during the May 5 debate. “Or is it to break the unions that are currently resisting the government?”
Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, Liberal Labor Critic for British Columbia, described a highway widening project in his riding that is subject to the “Community Benefits Agreement” of the NPD which requires all workers to join one of 19 primarily US-based unions. The project cost $20 million of its $160 million budget, even after the length of the widening was cut nearly in half from the original 6.1km, he said .
A new hospital in Cowichan Lake was subject to union restrictions and provincial agency Infrastructure BC saw a 23% increase as a result, Kyllo said. Former transport minister Claire Trevena said union preference would only add 7% to the cost of public construction, with the new BC Institute of Technology campus being the latest project.
Labor Secretary Harry Bains reintroduced amendments in April to remove the secret ballot provision in union certification and to allow construction workers to change their union representation once a year instead of every year. wait for the third year of a union contract. Bains tried to allow annual union “raids” on fellow union members on construction projects in 2019, as well as scrapping secret ballot voting, but BC Liberal MPs and Green MPs of British Columbia teamed up to defeat both measures.
Bains said in a debate this week, as he argued in 2019, that the current law allowing union contracts to run for three years before members can move to another union is not compatible with construction, where projects generally do not last three years.
One of the sites that has seen union raiding attempts is the Site C Dam project, now in its seventh year, the only open shop dam project ever in British Columbia. Traditional unions, new unions with looser craft lines that are raiding targets, and non-union companies are all working on the dam project near Fort St. John.
Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Politics of British Columbia