The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters has decided to close down ON THE LEVEL with the July 2006 edition. Citing changes in the organization and financial difficulties caused by the withdrawal of participation by the Carpentry Workers Benefit and Pension Plans as well as some Locals, the Council has laid off the editor and decided to close the office.
ON THE LEVEL started as a Vancouver Local 452 single sheet mimeographed newsletter in 1961 with John Antooshkin as pro-tem editor. The first edition as a four-page tabloid-sized paper was published jointly by Locals 452 and Local 1928 Millworkers in September of 1965. Carl Erickson was the editor. By November, Victoria Local 1598 has joined the ON THE LEVEL family. By Christmas, Nanaimo Local 527 and Qualicum 2414 were on board. In July of 1966 there were 25 Locals listed on the masthead. Millwrights local 2736 joined in 1967 and by the end of 1969 there were 28 locals receiving the Level.
ON THE LEVEL has reported on many issues both within and outside the union, from jurisdiction to unemployment, from autonomy to trade tips and has always been welcomed by subscribers as a source of well-researched and useful news.
I would like to thank the membership of the BC Carpenters Union for their support and understanding over the past 16 years I have been employed as editor. It has be a wonderful, -although at times trying, -career and I appreciate the contribution of the many members and Local Unions who have helped make this paper one of the most respected labour journals in the province.
In Solidarity: Ray Tickson, editor.
CMAW Convention Report
Conventions dissolve in acrimony
Court injunction restrains Heisterkamp and Nolan
by Randy Smith CMAW Local 1995 President
Our conventions have traditionally been held in April each year, with this year being the first convention for CMAW and the last convention for the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters. As Provincial Council funds are limited, CMAW agreed to cover the cost of the last Provincial Council convention. CMAWs convention was postponed until June so the Constitution Committee could arrive at a consensus, which would give us the framework on how the convention was to be conducted. Unfortunately, we were unable to agree on all aspects of the constitution so it was decided by a majority of the Executive Board to call a convention to get input from the members. Both conventions were to be held back-to-back to reduce the cost of calling two separate conventions.
At the opening of the CMAW convention, even before adoption of the Convention Rules and Delegates Personal Code of Conduct (usually the first items on the agenda after the Delegates Report), George Jalava (Prince George) put a motion forward to adjourn the convention immediately and have the executive go back and unanimously agree to a constitution and then hold a convention in April 2007. This was seconded by Brian Zdrilic of the Millwrights. This motion passed 52-45 although only 96 delegates were registered, 97 actually voted.
The Provincial Council called an Executive Board meeting after the CMAW convention was so precipitously adjourned. This was to determine if they should proceed with the Provincial Council of Carpenters convention. Due to the rancorous atmosphere of the convention, the Executive was quite concerned that matters may escalate because of the tension caused by the adjournment so it was decided to cancel the convention.
The Vancouver District Council of Carpenters was to hold a wine and cheese for the delegates but they also cancelled as it was felt emotions were running high and, when added to alcohol, matters may have gotten out of control.
A notice of cancellation of the convention was posted. Tony Heisterkamp (Vernon), Bob Eaton (Marine-Shipbuilders), and Brian Zdrilic (Millwrights) then approached staff demanding all of the paperwork and convention kits be turned over to them as they were going to hold their own convention. They then produce an eleven-page legal opinion dated May 6, 2006 (produced five weeks prior to the convention) stating what they doing was legal.
It is my understanding that resolutions were passed at this meeting to terminate the duly elected President (Len Embree) and Secretary-Treasurer (Pat Haggarty) whose terms do not officially expire until 2007.
Tony Heisterkamp and Frank Nolan then issued a province-wide notice to all CLRA contractors, building trades unions, legal council and staff advising they were now in charge and everyone was to report directly to them.
The Provincial Council officers then sought and received a court injunction restraining Heisterkamp and Nolan from claiming to be resident officers of the Provincial Council of Carpenters or purporting to act in any manner as provincial council officers.
Local 1995 Vice-President Bill Duck recently announced the terms of two public sector Poly Party Agreements reached in the Vancouver area.
Vancouver School Board support staff approved a four-year agreement by 89.5 per cent in July, with 172 tradespeople voting. The wage increase is 2 per cent per year over the life of the agreement based on the total package with the very real possibility of some Trade Retention increases down the road. The Trade Adjustment is predicted to be 2 per cent in the first year with an additional 1 per cent in 2007 and 2008. Duck says this agreement is unique in that most public sector increases are based on wages only while this one includes benefits.
Another improvement is that benefits will now be based on all hours paid rather than worked Poly Party settlements reached so there should no longer be a shortfall in benefits. Duck says there is additional money in the agreement for an Apprenticeship Sponsoring Fund to promote apprenticeship.
Full-time workers will receive a Fiscal Dividend payment of $3,700 as incentive for early settlement, pro-rated for part timers who started work before July 1, 2006.
The VSB Poly Party covers nine trades: Bricklayers, Carpenters, Cement Masons, Electrical, Heat & Frost, Painters, Plumbers, Machinists and Sheet Metal, some 50 of whom are carpenters.
Simon Fraser University staff also settled a Poly Party agreement in March for the 90 some tradespeople who work at the University. Covering eight trades, including: Carpenters, Electrical, Labourers, Machinists, Painters, Plumbers, Operating Engineers and Teamsters, the four-year agreement allows for 2.45 per cent increases for the first two years and 2.55 per cent for the following two years (including Trades Retention). Full time employees also received a $3,700 lumpsum Early Dividend from the provincial government. There may also be a Fiscal Dividend payable in March 2010 if provincial finances permit.
The Agreement was ratified by a 71 per cent vote in favour.
Labourers cast out International
by Mark Olsen, Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611 (Labourers)
As some of you may be aware, the Canadian Association of Skilled Trades (CAST) applied to raid our membership at our industrial plant operation Architectural Precast Structures Ltd. (APS) in the lower mainland.
The ballots were counted July 5 and the results are in:
35 ballots counted
34 votes for Local 1611
1 vote for CAST
97 per cent of our members voted to continue to be represented by our Union.
CAST now has a 22 month time bar on any future raid attempt.
(I dont think they will try again).
I wont go into the reasons why our members rejected CAST to such a degree, but suffice it to say they clearly told them to CAST off.
We are so proud of our members and our team, especially Rick Clarkson our APS Business Representative for his exemplary efforts.
Mark Olsen, Business Manager Local 1611
ED noteCAST is the new all-employee moniker for the UBCJA.
Carpenter Bursary program cancelled
The current restructuring of the BC Carpenters Union has made it necessary to cancel the David G. Flynn Memorial Bursary program at least for the coming study year, says CMAW Secretary-Treasurer Pat Haggarty. Perhaps funding can be arranged in the future, but for the present there is no money available to cover this very worthwhile program, he said. I regret this situation and hope we can revisit the decision in time for next year.
Meanwhile, BC Carpenters Union Locals affiliated to the Construction, Maintenance & Allied Workers (CMAW) can participate in the annual scholarship programs offered by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), says CEP Western Region Vice-president mDave Coles.
Twelve scholarships worth $2,000 each are offered across Canada to students taking post-secondary education at college, university, CEGEP or technological institutes. Those eligible are:
Members in good standing
Children of members in good standing
Children of members who passed away while in good standing
Children of members who retired in good standing
Applicants must submit an essay of 1,500 to 2,000 words on the topic: What the labour movement means to me, with a deadline at the end of next March. There is also a $2,000 scholarship offered for women in non-traditional fields, like trades and technology.
Application forms will be available from your local union office or on the internet at: http://www.cep.ca/education/courses_e.html
A Message from the CMAW President
CMAW selects Jan Noster as new President
As your new CMAW President, I look forward to serving the membership of the Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers. As we move forward, I find it an honour and a privilege to be given the trust of the working members.
Affiliating to the CEP is the BC Carpenters Unions symbol of our commitment to a new generation of carpenters and other workers. We gain a partner in the rebuilding of our union that will fight for not against members and all workers.
Our affiliation will stand proudly as the final plank in our framework of broad changes that weve made over the last year to revitalize and rebuild our new Canadian union: CMAW.
Across the country, the CEP will provide CMAW with a strong national presence. We have developed partnerships across Canada. (For example, we have built a strong relationship with the FTQ, the main construction union in Québec, representing carpenters and other trades). We will continue to work with this group of unions, as well as other unions locally that share the same values that we have.
Now, more than ever, we need to tell politicians what issues the members are facing in the workplace. Our affiliation strengthens our voice, not only in the BC Legislature but also in Ottawa.
The heart of our union is in the field, with our members, and not in the union offices. Even more important than having a presence on Canadas labour movement scene, joining with the CEP means that we can put the resources of CMAW to work in support of the membership. The services and support provided by the CEP will be directly in the field, organizing a new generation of carpenters and other workers. When fully affiliated, the CEP and CMAW will generate more power and more effort towards representing members and organizing than has ever been the case before. These are resources that we can use in the years ahead to protect and strengthen the values that built our BC Carpenters Union more than a century ago.
We can no longer sit back and watch a declining membership in a provincial environment that is generally hostile toward unions. The status quo is no longer an option. We need to act. The Executive Board of CMAW has rededicated themselves and our union to organizing and membership representation.
In keeping with that commitment, the majority of members of the Executive Board have pledged to support the affiliation to the CEP. I think about some of the great legendary history of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters involvement in fights for a seven-and-a-half hour day, fights for good occupational health and safety laws, fights for apprenticeship and training, fights against American protectionism, fights for Canadian autonomy, fights against foreign wars, and fights generally for people who do not have a lot of power.
I also reflect on the fact that this union has been involved with every progressive cause that we, as Canadians, often take for granted: laws such as the Workers Compensation Act and the Employment Insurance Act, the right to form and organize a union. Sometimes we were involved in small ways; often, we put in overwhelming efforts. But none of these rights would have passed into law if not for the good work that the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters has been well known for.
I want to be clear here. We must set aside what differences we sometimes have as the leadership of the union, and concentrate on living up to the great reputation that we have as an insurance policy for workers and their families. We must grow this union, train the next generation of workers, improve servicing to members, and keep fighting for the advancement of working people everywhere.
And, as I see it, the commitment to organizing and the affiliation to CEP itself will serve as the cornerstone of our obligation to make our union into a powerful force once again.
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