On The Level April 2005
hardcopy edition available as Adobe PDF download | previous issue | Level archives
|Union members strongly choose CMAW
|GP threatens Council with trusteeship
|Carpenters mourn passing of Dave Flynn
|Damages suit proceeding
|More Wins for Autonomy - Raid applications dismissed
|International threatens supervision
Support for Canadian Union Increases to 97%
Union members strongly choose CMAW
BC Carpenters Union President Len Embree says Labour Board vote returns released this week show support for the union's Canadian Autonomy movement is increasing.
"Right now membership endorsement is 97 per cent." says Embree. "This is up from the 83 per cent support shown when our members voted to move their union from American to Canadian control in 2003."
"The BC membership has been striving for Canadian autonomy for decades," says Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers President Brian Zdrilic. "The latest votes clearly demonstrate the wishes of the members to transfer their bargaining rights to CMAW."
Zdrilic says he always believed the vote would be favourable. "However, we are ecstatic at the results. This clearly shows the ground swell for Canadian autonomy is membership driven. Members do not want to be controlled from Washington, DC," says Zdrilic who also represents Millwrights Local Union 2736.
Since last summer the BC Carpenters Union has been asking its members working for over 149 employers across BC to switch to the new CMAW union which is a joint bargaining council in partnership with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The applications are being opposed by some employers and the US head office in Washington, DC, as well as some other Building Trades unions.
"Canadian workers want control over their own union affairs," says Dave Coles, Vice President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and partner with the BC Carpenters in CMAW. "This is no surprise to us; CEP was created by merging unions who had all left their international masters. These workers are simply continuing the struggle for independence."
The BC Union has been involved in a long struggle for autonomy from its US based parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, also referred to as the "International." The cross-border dispute has intensified over the past decade as the International has increasingly interfered with Canadian members' rights to elect their own officers and make autonomous policy decisions in the interests of Canadian workers.
The votes being counted so far are those of industrial shops, school board employees and All-Employee construction certifications only. The Labour Board has yet to order a count of the ballots cast by any of the craft certified members pending the outcome of a hearing which is expected sometime this summer.
Supervision hearings scheduled against BC Carpenters
GP threatens Council with trusteeship
UBCJA General President Doug McCarron has indicated he intends to drop the gauntlet with the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters. He issued an order calling for a supervision hearing under the International Constitution for May 10 and 11, at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond. He has appointed a Hearing Committee of William Michalowski from New Jersey and two eastern Canadians, Don Guilbeault from Ottawa and Simon Pitts from the Maritimes.
If the hearings go ahead, they are scheduled to run from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. both days.
Michalowski is the same person McCarron appointed to lead the unsuccessful charge against Local 1928 several years ago.
McCarron is claiming the Provincial Council is appearing to act contrary to his idea of the welfare of the UBC by (paraphrased):
1. Transferring funds from the General Fund of the Provincial Council to the Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers bargaining council (CMAW) which is chartered by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP).
2. Failing to provide documentation, information and confirmations demanded in letters sent in February.
3. Refusing to agree not to make further transfers pending his review of the relationship between the Provincial Council, CMAW and the CEP.
4. Refusing to agree not to transfer funds directly to the CEP.
He calls on Section 6D and 10H of the UBC Constitution to appoint the Hearing Committee which may or may not meet, at its own discretion.
Members interested in attending the hearings should check with the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters or their Local Union to determine if the hearings will actually proceed or if they may be postponed or called off in the face of legal challenges by the Provincial Council.
The Provincial Council has launched a challenge at the Labour Board that seeks an interim order (injunction) from the Board under Section 5 of the Labour Code, alleging intimidation and coercive conduct which impacts the Councils ability to function as a trade union, represent its members and exercise its legal rights to form a council of trade unions.
If the Board grants the injunction, the hearings most likely will be called off for now, but BC Carpenter President Len Embree says Its only a matter of time when they will come for us again. He advises the membership that the fight is on.
Carpenters mourn passing of Dave Flynn
This week Dave Flynn, 51, passed away peacefully due to complications resulting from his 2-year struggle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Brother Flynn was a husband, a father, a son, a brother and a friend and comrade to many.
Dave was a rare working class hero and a great champion of workers rights. A pile driver by trade and a member, activist, Business Agent and supporter of Pile Drivers Local Union 2404, Brother Flynn never strayed from his fight for social and economic justice.
As Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters, Brother Flynn was a key architect and navigator in his unions struggle for Canadian Autonomy and independence.
Speaking on behalf of the Executive Council and its 7000 members, BC Provincial Council of Carpenters President Len Embree, a close colleague and friend of Brother Flynn, says, Dave helped build the foundation of our unions future and he will be deeply deeply missed.
Service information will be posted at www.bccarpentersunion.com
Damages suit proceeding
Legal counsel for the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters is proceeding with a suit claiming monetary damages arising from the Internationals continued harassment of the BC Carpenters Union over restructuring. Council lawyers will begin examining witnesses in the near future, says Council President Len Em-bree. This is our first suit against the International and it will demonstrate that GP McCarron is not allowed, in our legal sys-tem, to use the UBC constitution to enforce a political agenda, he says.
The action was launched nearly two years ago and is designed to recover some of the legal costs and expenses associated with constant demands from Washington to Council officers and staff for documents and information in the Internationals campaign
BC Carpenters organize two prominent Quebec contractors
BC Carpenters Union President Len Embree announced in February that the union has signed collective agreements with Anjinnov Construction and Technique Acoustique, two experienced independent contractors from Quebec who are opening operations in BC.
This is all part of our organizing plan to build new relationships with progressive employers, said Embree, noting that the all-employee modern agreement includes top wage rates and benefits. The agreements also ensure that workers will be dispatched through Local Union hiring halls.
Led by our organizer Apolo Suarez, we have developed connections in Quebec that are now paying huge dividends, Embree continued, referring to the assistance the union received from its new partner Fraternité Nationales Local 9 and Local 2366, Quebecs largest carpenters and interior systems unions.
Anjinnov is a General Contracting company currently employing hundreds of construction workers throughout Quebec and is set to bid on medium sized projects in BCs Lower Mainland. Technique Acoustique (TA), an interior systems contractor, employs over 120 drywallers in Quebec and specializes not only in drywall installation, but also acoustical wall and ceiling work and will be bidding on projects in the coming weeks.
See Presidents Corner page 8 for more information on our growing relationship with Quebec carpenters.
More Wins for Autonomy
On January 19th, an appeal panel of the BC Labour Relations Board upheld an earlier judg-ment that validated the BC Carpenters Union push for Canadian Autonomy from its Ameri-can parent organization, the United Brother-hood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (see last issue).Loss of the appeal by the Washington, DC, based UBCJA effectively thwarts their main legal objections to the BC Carpenters Union campaign to transfer all its union certifications to a new all-Canadian entity called the Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers bargaining council (CMAW).
However, until the Board deals with a few outstanding and secondary UBCJA objections, all the craft certification CMAW ballots re-main sealed and uncounted. Industrial, School Board and All-Employee ballots are being counted this week and so far the results have been 97 per cent in favour of CMAW.Our members want their votes counted, said Len Embree, President of the BC Carpenters Union. This latest win at the BC Labour Board proves that we are slowly pulling Canadian Autonomy out of the desperate claws of the American eagle.
Raid applications dismissed
In a related watershed decision released on March 15, 2005, the BC Labour Relations Board dismissed 29 raid applications made by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the International) on employers certified to the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters. Late last year, the International established a new bargaining council called the Carpenters Floorlayers and Allied Workers Bargaining Council (CFAW) and hired 16 organizers to recruit BC Provincial Council members away from their BC Local Unions and back into the Washington, DC, based International. This group is not to be confused with the legitimate CMAW council (see above) which forms an alliance of the BC Carpenters Union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP).But BC Labour Board Vice-Chair Catherine McCreary ruled that CFAW cannot represent the carpenter craft and that
the Provincial Council is the only appropriate bargaining agent for the Carpenters standard construction bargaining unit. (paragraph 45, BCLRB No. B68/2005).
(web note: BC Labour Relations Board Analysis and Decision text of pages 11, 12 and 13)
PRESIDENTS CORNER by Len Embree
Charges a reaction to Labour Board rulings
International threatens supervision
The LRB made a very commonsense decision...They threw out the International (CFAW) applications.
Another chapter in the never-ending saga of how the UBCJA represents or misrepresents workers in BC is unfolding.
Last fall, a bargaining council referred to as CFAW (Construction, Floorlayers & Allied Workers), established by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, reared its head. They immediately proceeded to begin raiding BC Provincial Council of Carpenters craft certifications. CFAW is not to be confused with our own CMAW which is a legitimate council of the BC Carpenters Union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.
Out of a total of over 200 certifications, CFAW managed to get 33 applications for certification in front of the BC Labour Relations Board. Some were one- or two-employee operations but, suffice it to say, the total number of employees (rank-and-file workers) involved numbered fewer than 100. Even if they won the votes in half of these, which we doubt, the end result of the efforts of their 14 hired repre-sentatives and many thousands of dollars spent would have resulted in them representing a miniscule number of working carpenters.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it we will never really know, because the LRB made a very commonsense decision, and ruled that under the circumstances only the Provincial Council of Carpenters has the right to represent the carpentry craft in BC. Consequently, they threw out the International (CFAW) applications.
Everyone probably can guess the next step. Letters started to arrive from UBCJA General President McCarron, demanding access to information that he already has. Next, we received the inevitable notice of a trustee-ship hearing, to be held on May 10 and 11. We will deal with this nonsense as we have in the past, knowing full well that the membership is stronger than ever in their demand for autonomy.
Our own lawsuit
The Provincial Council is proceeding with a lawsuit, including damages against the UBCJA and their agents. Interviewing of witnesses should take place shortly, and following that we will be looking for court dates.
Board rules for Council
All of the foregoing is taking place while we have ongoing applications at the LRB. We won a very significant decision that says the Provincial Council is the sole bargaining agent for the carpentry craft in BC. We have an outstanding application for reconsideration of the decision giving certifications in their area to Local Union 1598 Victoria, and are very confident of winning that appeal. We have a Section 5 application at the LRB that accuses the International of threats, intimidation, and coercion in their dealings with the Provincial Council.
In pointing out all of these issues, Im sure that you can sense the frustration that all of us are experiencing. That, of course, is exactly what the International has intended. They know that they have next to no support in BC, and are simply being destructive. So much for trade union principles.
Speaking of frustration, I will try to bring you up to date on construction bargaining. The Bargaining Council of British Columbia Building Trades Unions (BCBCBTU, as were known) struck a small committee, consisting of Mark Olsen (BCBCBTU Chair), Joe Shayler (Plumbers), Rob Tuzzi (Bricklayers), Brian Zdrilic (Millwrights) and myself, to meet with the LRB and the contractors small committee. Our job is to try to reach agreement on how to proceed with bargaining. The contractors are insisting on a six-year agreement, and are refusing to discuss anything else wages, sunset provisions, compulsory enabling, etc. unless we meet their precondition of a six-year term. There is no meaningful collective bargaining taking place in these circumstances.
We are now awaiting a report from the LRB with regard to the whole issue of how to proceed. I have to add that up to this point the cooperation of the committee has been excellent, and I anticipate good cooperation from the other trades. It is imperative for this to be maintained to reach a fair collective agreement.
On a more positive note, I would like to report on the Fraternité Nationale convention in Montreal, attended by Secretary-Treasurer Pat Haggarty and myself on the weekend of April 8 to 10. It was an excellent convention, resulting in continuing solidarity between our two unions. Both unions have passed resolutions to formalize relations, which should result in reciprocity for our members working in Quebec, or FN members working in BC. As well, the Fraternite has been extremely helpful in providing us with training material and also participating in dealing with the federal government on issues of training and the under-ground economy. They have been invaluable in directing Quebec contractors to the Pro-vincial Council to sign collective agreements. Solidarity, indeed.
While at the convention, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Henri Masse, President of the FTQ (the Quebec version of the CLC). Of course we discussed all manner of issues, including autonomy, and I look forward to the Canadian Labour Congress convention being held in Montreal in June, to continue and expand on our discussions.
The Fraternité left the International in 1983, and their success since doing that has been quite phenomenal. Their support for our struggle, while unexpected, has proven to be invaluable. The benefit to our respective memberships is obvious.
Thats the view from this corner.
RESOLUTION NO. 24
AGREEMENT WITH THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PROVINCIAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS
WHEREAS we have been working in close collaboration with the carpenters-joiners of British Columbia for a few years;
WHEREAS we share common union-related directions in terms of improving the living conditions of our workers;
WHEREAS to establish a Canadian structure is a long term strategy and there is still a lot of work to do to convince the other Canadian labour unions;
WHEREAS we must, in the short and long term, continue to improve and reinforce the relationship between our two unionized groups;
WHEREAS this relationship is beneficial for the workers of our two groups;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Fraternité pursues its efforts to obtain reciprocity agreements with our colleagues of the British Columbia Council of Carpenters, in compliance with our respective structures;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Fraternité pursues its efforts, together with British Columbia, to approach the other Canadian union groups to stand up for the rights of our workers in forums where there is a need to do so.
From the Fraternité Nationale Convention, Montreal 2005
EMERGENCY RESOLUTION No. 1
FRATERNAL TIES WITH QUÉBEC UNION
WHEREAS: The Fraternité Nationale des Charpentiers-Menuisiers, Local 9, and the Fraternité Nationale des Poseurs de Systèmes Intérieurs, Revêtements Souples Parqueteurs Sableurs, Local 2366, constitute a union with similar principles and goals as the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters: and
WHEREAS: The Fraternité Nationale represents carpenters, lathers, floorlayers, and other trades in Quebec; and
WHEREAS: The Fraternité Nationale is the dominant civil construction union in Quebec, with members working union for companies that are operating non-union in BC; and
WHEREAS: The Fraternité Nationale left the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America in 1981, and as an autonomous union has organized over 13,000 new members in Quebec; and
WHEREAS: The Fraternité Nationale is looking to form cooperative relationships with other unions across Canada that are not controlled by international unions; and
WHEREAS: The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters needs to form alliances with like-minded unions across Canada that can assist us in organizing, political lobbying at the federal level, and other issues:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That this Convention empower the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Executive Board to establish a fraternal relationship with Frater-nité Nationale Local Unions 9 and 2366; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That this relationship shall be built upon equality, mutual respect, and complete and full organizational autonomy; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED: That this relationship is not about organizational affiliations or mergers, but rather is about uniting like-minded workers across Canada for the purpose of increasing our collective strength.
Adopted by the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Convention in Vancouver 2004
Make the Internet connection
Internet news and views of interest to Carpenter Union members can be reached through the BC Carpenters Union website at www.bccarpentersunion.com or at the union friendly website run by Local 2300 member Dave Livingston at: www.carpentersunionbc.com
Other sites of interest include:
BC Federation of Labour www.bcfed.com
CLC home page www.clc-ctc.ca
Canadian Autoworkers www.caw.ca/index.asp
CUPE BC www.cupe.bc.ca
Labour Start (labour news) www.labourstart.org/canada/
Straight Goods (news) www.straightgoods.com/
Working TV www.workingtv.com/index.html
Carpentry Workers Plans: www.cwbp.ca/index.shtml
David Shreck (analysis) www.StrategicThoughts.com/
Count me in campaign www.count-me-in.net
The Tyee Online (news) www.thetyee.ca
Contact your Local Union for Local Union websites (web note: some Local links are here and here)