ON THE LEVEL
Is dedicated to representing Carpenters Union members views and news and reporting on social issues of interest to working people in British Columbia.
On the Level, the newspaper for Carpenters in British Columbia, is owned and operated by ON THE LEVEL PUBLISHERS LTD., which maintains editorial offices at #304 - 2806 Kingsway, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5R 5T5, telephone (604) 430-8140. Fax 437-1110. It is printed at Broadway Printers, Vancouver. Annual subscription fee $10.00 in Canada, US$10.00 in the USA. Active members pay $9.60 per year through their Carpenters Union dues.
Editor: Ray Tickson
Members of the editorial board are: Len Embree, David Flynn, Jane Richey and Brian Zdrilic.
ON THE LEVEL is a member publication of the Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM) and the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA)
Presidents Corner by Len Embree
International believes all membership assets belong to Washington
McCarron and his agents manufacture suit
The International continues to demonstrate complete disregard for the rights of our members
The recent attempt by the International to seize all of the Provincial Councils financial records continues to demonstrate their complete disregard and contempt for the rights of our members in BC. It also reveals their strategy of pretending to represent members when in real terms it is no more than another attempt to manufacture a case for trusteeship.
On August 11, a full day in court brought out these facts.
Wayne Cox and Mike Autzen, business managers of Local Unions 1598 and 1541 respectively, and both members of the Provincial Council Executive Board, have been methodically working with the International for at least two years to subvert convention decisions of the membership. A quick review of their affidavits makes this abundantly clear. Its quite obvious that both of these individuals have two sets of rules of behaviourone for themselves and one for everyone else. We now have a situation of two individuals suing their union for decisions in which they participated. Add to that the fact that they seem to expect to continue sitting and deliberating on an Executive Board they are suing. Bizarre, to say the least!
What this case clearly illustrates is the fundamental difference between the majority of our Local Unions and members in BC and the International and their agents, Cox and Autzen.
It would stand to reason that our members should expect that their efforts and dues over the years that have gone into establishing facilities and funds would be theirs to use as intended. Not so, according to Cox, Autzen, and the International, who seem to believe that all property and assets of the members belong to the masters in Washington, D.C. Do those two expect to benefit from the Internationals largesse? Quite sad, actually, but not new.
The Provincial Council has thorough annual audits performed and presents all the financial statements to our annual convention. For the International to come along two months later with their agentswho, by the way, have been privy to all financial statements for yearsand try to drum up some issue of impropriety defies all common sense.
Our membership has been very clear in their direction to the Executive Board and through convention decisions. They are not prepared to hand over either their rights or their assets to anyoneleast of all to the International, who over the years have contributed nothing to their well being.
Although the International initiated this fight in 1996 with their insistence on mandatory bylaws, the fundamental difference between their business trade unionism and our membership-driven trade unionism has existed for many years. This is a fundamental difference in outlook that is long overdue to be resolved.
We have a tremendous amount of support in the Canadian labour movement for our position. Our membership is as committed as ever, and I am absolutely convinced that democracy will prevail.
Thats the view from this corner.
Both the Internationals suit and the Councils statement of defence can be found on the internet at http://www.carpentersunionbc.com
Council takes McCarron to court over attempted seizure of records
BC Carpenters resist Washingtons fishing expedition
In June, International President Doug McCarron attempted to seize the books and records of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters and the its affiliated Local Unions and related companies and holdings. Citing a concern about calls for Canadian autonomy passed at the April Provincial Council Convention, McCarron appointed Gary Gill of KPMGs forensic accounting arm as his agent to start the process which has been characterized by some as the start of a possible expropriation of membership assets in British Columbia.
The Council and most Locals resisted this blatant fishing expedition and refused to hand over their records.
Council President Len Embree said there is no need to hire a high-pressure forensic accounting firm to acquire information the International already has.
If all they want is to review the assets of the organization, they just have to look at the audited financial statements they already have in their possession, Embree states. It is obvious, claims Embree, that they are looking for some excuse they can use to put the organization under supervision and seize the members assets.
When the Council and all but five Locals (Locals 527, 1541, 1598, 1907 and 2404) resisted the attempt to seize their records, McCarron and his agents General Executive Board Member James Smith, International Representative David Wright, Victoria Local 1598 Business Agent Wayne Cox, and Floorlayers Local 1541 Business Agent Michael Autzen then applied for a summary injunction designed to force the Union to comply. To Washingtons surprise, what they thought would be an open and shut morning hearing before a judge turned into a day-long legal debate with a second day scheduled for September 6, 2000.
The Provincial Council argues that as the International is not a trade union under the Labour Code, it has no authority to interfere with the Councils right to fully represent the members in British Columbia. Under the Code, the Provincial Council is the bargaining authority and properly represents BC Carpenters Union members.
McCarron rests his case on the absolute right granted him by his interpretation of the International Constitution to do pretty well anything he pleases with the members property and assets. He states that the Convention autonomy resolutions suggested to him that the Council was moving toward an attempt to withdraw, or disaffiliate from the United Brotherhood. That would require him, he says, to ensure that all assets are transferred to the United Brotherhood in Washington.
Provincial Council conventions have adopted autonomy resolutions since at least 1969 when Victoria Local 1598 proposed Complete autonomy for the Canadian Section. A referendum in 1991 which demanded BC Carpenters pursue autonomy, passed by 98 per cent. Several referenda last year supported a strong Provincial Council by over 95 per cent. There has certainly been no move on the part of Canadian Carpenters to abandon the Carpenters Union. They just want to have a guaranteed democratic say in how their local affairs are run and a vote on who represents their interests, says Embree.
The Councils lawyer says that under Canadian law, the Constitution of the International is a contract of adhesion that members have no ability to negotiate or decline to participate in where collective agreements require union membership as a condition of employment. As such, it does not have the force of a contract as claimed by McCarron and is subordinate to the laws of British Columbia, in particular the Labour Code. In fact, the Council is asking the court to severely limit the arbitrary powers in the International Constitution since it is being used to circumvent the rights of the membership under BC law.
McCarron tried to use his authority under the Constitution to demand the dissolution of Dawson Creek Local 1237 and the merger of its members into two other Locals contrary to the demonstrated wishes of the membership. The Labour Board ruled this was illegal and reversed this action. McCarron and his agents then directed that Vancouver Island Locals 513, 1812 and 2068 would be dissolved and Local 513 would be merged into Local 527, Local 1812 into Local 1598, and Local 2068 into Local 1989. McCarron further directed that the assets and property of the dissolved Locals would be transferred to the new Local Unions. A nice reward for his friends is what was argued in court.
These actions, according to the legal argument filed in court, were for the sole purpose of consolidating McCarrons power base in British Columbia and to reward his supporters. The Council, in its statement of defence, further charges that McCarron and his agents have illegally interfered with the administration of the Provincial Council and its affiliated Locals from exercising their democratic rights under the Code (to prevent) McCarron from illegally dissolving Locals without a vote of the affected membership.
We will go to court to defend our members rights, says Embree. McCarron broke the contract (implied in the Constitution) when he contravened the Labour Code in Dawson Creek.
Embree claims, We have an obligation to protect the memberships right to a democratic say in the running of their own affairs and we intend to uphold that right under BC law.
Council President Len Embree and Secretary-Treasurer Dave Flynn tell KPMGs Gary Gill that they have no intention of turning over the Councils books and records.
The case for the defence
The Provincial Council position in court
The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters contends that the International Constitution contains a number of implied terms which arise from the reasonable expectation of the parties and the equitable principles which have been applied to trade union constitutions under Canadian law.
Those implied terms include:
a) the International Constitution is subordinate to the laws of British Columbia and in particular the Labour Relations Code;
b) the Provincial Council of Carpenters is entitled to operate as a trade union in the Province of British Columbia exercising the rights, privileges and duties of trade unions under the Labour Relation Code;
c) the Provincial Council is entitled to protect the democratic rights of its members and to uphold the majoritarian principles given to those members under the Labour Relations Code;
d) the Provincial Council and its members have a right to engage in genuine debate over its future, its structure, its affiliation with the International and to adopt resolutions that are consistent with that right;
e) the Plaintiff McCarron in his capacity as General President of the International will exercise his powers in good faith and for no ulterior purposes.
If the International Constitution is interpreted in accordance with these implied terms it is clear that the actions of the General President and his agents are contrary to those rights and obligations and should be disallowed under BC law.
Two BAs support International suit
In their affidavits supporting the Internationals application for a Summary Injunction to seize the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters books and records without a trial, both Wayne Cox, Business Manager for Victoria Local 1598, and Mike Autzen, Business Manager for Floorlayers Local 1541, state that they know of no facts that would constitute a defence of the Councils position, despite being present at most of the Executive Board meetings that examined the question and set the policy. Autzen even states that the position taken by Council President Len Embree is contrary to the purposes and objects of the Provincial Council and the Locals in BC despite the province-wide referendum results that supported that position by over 95 per cent. Of course the members of both those Locals were denied the opportunity to vote on those issues.
Council President Embree said that the International is on a fishing expedition, looking for an excuse to put the Provincial Council under supervision and seize the assets that BC members have amassed over the years. If they just want a review, why hire very expensive forensic auditors from KPMG when they have had access to our audited statements for years? he asked.
It is interesting to note that Local 1598 presented a resolution to the 1969 Provincial Convention calling for Complete Canadian Autonomy.
Council Comment by Dave Flynn
Top down, hierarchical structure designed to protect members from themselves
BC labour Law will prevail despite McCarron
Convention said to be tightly controlled by McCarron forces
Although the Provincial Council of Carpenters and a number of its affiliates chose not to attend the General Convention held in Chicago, August 21 to 25, I admit to being overcome with curiosity after the fact, not unlike the feeling one gets when you are unable to take your eyes off a train wreck.
A couple of calls to delegates whose opinions I respect confirmed what many of us suspected would be the case. There was no opportunity in Chicago for free and open debate on the issues. In fact these delegates, who have asked that their names not be used for fear of reprisals from their Executive Secretary Treasurers, are of the opinion that of all the General Conventions they have attended, this one was the most tightly controlled in terms of not allowing any opposition to be heard. Resolutions that were not supported by the McCarron machine did not make it to the Convention floor. Speakers that managed to slip through the security system to voice their opinions against the McCarron philosophy were drowned out by a highly organized chorus of boos. The kindest thing that was said about the Convention was that it was run very efficiently, like the trains running on time in Mussolinis Italy.
So, what was accomplished in Chicago, and what effect will it have on us in BC? I have no doubt that McCarron was able to have the International Constitution amended to include all the restructuring initiatives he has introduced since the last Convention. The Regional Council structure, with its representational democracy, will be enshrined in the Constitution. McCarron and his followers seem to believe that the Unions role is to protect the members from themselves and they have incorporated a very hierarchical, top down structure to enable them to make decisions for us.
But in spite of all these moves to facilitate his restructuring efforts in BC through Constitutional amendments that will further restrict our rights, Brother McCarron continues to overlook one very important facthe must comply with the law in British Columbia. The events in Chicago last week have no effect on our position with the International. The Provincial Council will continue to fight to protect the democratic rights of our members through the Labour Relations Board and the courts. The Provincial Council has been accused by the International of hiding behind the issue of democracy. When the alternative is a tightly controlled dictatorship, then democracy is an issue I am quite proud to hide behind. If I have learned nothing else through this entire restructuring battle, Ive learned that the members are fiercely protective of their right to vote on agreements, their right to elect representatives and their right to make their own decisions on their futures. McCarron and his supporters are seriously underestimating the will of the members if they believe they can win the restructuring battle by endorsing a few resolutions in Chicago.
The International is seeking to have the courts in BC issue a summary judgment and an injunction that would allow the International to take possession of all the books, papers and other records of the Provincial Council. They are of the opinion that the Constitution gives the General President that absolute right. In our Statement of Defence the Provincial Council is arguing that the International has breached its own constitution through their attempts to force mergers without votes. We say that the actions of the International constitute illegal interference in the administration of a Trade Union and that there has been no breach of duty on the part of the Provincial Council.
We will be back in court on September 6 to conclude arguments. If the International is successful in obtaining their injunction, we expect a witch hunt, looking for excuses to impose a trusteeship on the Council. If they are unsuccessful it will probably go to trial sometime in the next two years.
Plaintiffs dont represent BC Union members
To the editor:
UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA, DOUGLAS J. MCCARRON, JAMES E. SMITH, WAYNE COX, MICHAEL AUTZEN AND DAVID WRIGHT on their own behalf as members of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and on behalf of and representing all members of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
This is the opening paragraph in the Writ of Summons outlining the civil lawsuit that these plaintiffs have brought against the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters, Len Embree, Dave Flynn, GR&S Holdings and On the Level Publishers Ltd.
Neither myself, the members of the executive of Local 513, nor any of the members of Local 513 would recognize nor want any of the above named plaintiffs representing us, nor do we want them to be claiming to represent us. For this group to enter into this lawsuit claiming to represent all members of the UBCJA is ludicrous and totally arrogant.
I would like to mention two things that take away any credibility from this group and their claim to represent all members of the Union.
1. Last Septembers province-wide referendum which gave overwhelming support to the BC Provincial Council (95+ per cent). And dont forget that our members in some locals were not given the opportunity to take part in that referendum.
2. The positive attitude that came out of last Aprils convention and the conviction and support that most delegates had for the Provincial Council and its officers.
We have a long way to go in our battle to retain our democratic system and rights. We cannot let this claim by this group to represent all members go unchallenged.
Business Agent, Local 513 Port Alberni
SCAB TIRES ENDANGER PUBLIC SAFETY
Youve probably heard about the massive recall of Firestone tires. Its been hard to miss Fords full-page ads in almost every Canadian newspaper.
The Associated Press reported August 14 that the Bridgestone-Firestone factory in Decatur IL had been the main source of the problem tires, and that the factory had experienced its biggest quality problems from 1994 through 1996. Those were the years when the factory was operated mainly by scabs because of a labour dispute between Bridgestone and its union. The revelation came from Ford itself, after an intensive investigation. There have been very few claims for Decatur-made tires produced since the strike was settled
The defective tires (the treads could separate) are suspect in hundreds of accidents that caused at least 46 deaths. Add yet another point to add to the list of reasons why the use of scabs or, so-called replacement workers - should be banned during labour disputes.
McCarron Threatens to Defect From AFL-CIO and CLC
By Michael Bologna, The Bureau of National Affairs
CHICAGODouglas J. McCarron, general president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, suggested his union may choose to end its affiliation with the American Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, asserting that its contributions to the federation are doing little more than paying the salaries of Washington bureaucrats.
The comments came during the UBCs General Convention in Chicago, where McCarron won a second five-year term as General President. McCarrons words were backed by action by convention delegates, who supported an amendment to the union constitution discussing the possible departure from the AFL-CIO.
In other action, delegates defeated a proposal that would have allowed the general membership of the union to directly elect union officers. Convention delegates currently elect union officers.
In his earlier opening remarks to the nearly 2,000 delegates, McCarron expressed disappointment with the AFL-CIOs organizing and spending strategies.
Other unionsthe AFL-CIO the worst offendershave made commitments to organizing, but without reviewing their operations, McCarron said. And all they have done is spent more and raised our per-capita tax to pay for it. I am telling you now, we are looking at how the AFL-CIO and the Building and Construction Trades Department spends our moneymore than $4 million a year at the national leveland if they dont use it as well as we can, they will not use it at all.
McCarron continued, no member of this brotherhood is going to see the money they work for, sweat for, risk their lives for, used to pay a Washington bureaucrats salary.
Later that day, convention delegates overwhelmingly supported a constitutional amendment that opens the door for disaffiliation with the AFL-CIO and the Canadian Labor Congress. Section 58 of the UBCs constitution obligates local unions to affiliate with their appropriate regional and state federations of labor. But in a major departure from previous language, the section was amended to suggest such local affiliations are only appropriate if the international body is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the Canadian Labor Congress.
During floor debate on the issue, Terry Nelson, secretary of the UBCs constitutional committee, justified the language change by arguing that other trade unions are using procedures under Article 20 of the AFL-CIO constitution to steal carpenters work. He said McCarron needs a weapon to help the UBC deal with these difficult situations.
Ken Little, recording secretary of Local 1144 in Seattle and the only member to challenge McCarron for General President of the union, described the possibility of severed ties with the AFL-CIO as dangerous to the unions mission. Little said such a move would hamper the UBCs ability to organize at a grassroots level, damage union solidarity, and fuel confrontations with other unions.
In order to organize working people in America, we better have formal communications with each other, Little said. And, if the Carpenters decided to step out of the AFL-CIO, it will alienate all Carpenters on the job site. We have to be in alliance with the Ironworkers, the Teamsters, the Laborers. Solidarity is what we stand for.
In other UBC convention developments, the delegates voted down a pro-democracy proposal that would, among other things, permit the direct election of officers by union members. The proposal would have allowed all UBC members to vote in elections for the General President, General Vice President, and General Secretary-treasurer. The proposal also would have permitted members to elect their appropriate district vice president. Currently all of these posts are elected by delegates to the quintennial general convention.
In balloting for the general executive board of the UBC, the so-called McCarron Team beat out an opposition slate of candidates, who were in many cases members of the Carpenters for a Democratic Union. McCarron beat Little by a tally of 1,649 to 170. Doug Banes won the post of General Vice President after being opposed by Philip Lavallee. Andy Silins was elected General Secretary-treasurer in a race against Joseph Holway.
(click for full text)
Spotlight on organizing by Josh Coles, provincial organizer
Government Low Bid policy hurts the kids
In the action movie Armageddon, Steve Buscemis character, Rockhound, makes a great statement about the construction industrys use of the competitive bidding system.
Moments before launching off in a huge space shuttle, a nervous Rockhound quips to a crewmate: Do you realize that we are strapped into a $4 billion gas can with a thousand moving parts that are on fire? And just thinkit was all built by the lowest bidder!
Its a good thing that the BC construction industry doesnt build space ships because our low bid system would probably result in leaky rockets.
From public construction to condos, the low bid principle used in awarding projects permeates through the construction industry like rain creeps behind vapor barriers. Project owners, from school boards to developers, are always hunting for lower construction costs and the low bid system is their weapon of choice.
As a result, hungry contractors look for every possible way to make their bids cheaper than their competitors. But there are few areas where they can lower bids since many costs, such as equipment and materials, are practically equal for all bidders. Contractors then try to lower the costs they can negotiate, such as employees wages and quality controls. But the use of skilled labour and strict quality safeguards is critical to constructing watertight buildings.
The results of unchecked low bidding can be devastating. Earlier this year the Coquitlam school board predicted there is about 20 schools in the lower mainland that are badly leaking. Each was built in the mid-1990s, just when the leaky-condo problem was being exposed.
Two secondary schools in Coquitlam Riverside and Pinetree opened in 1996 and 1997 and are already in the midst of $3.4 million worth of repairs due to building envelope failure.
Leaky schools and condominiums have caused a flurry of accusations over the past three years as people look to solve the problem that has devastated our industry. Some say its bad designs, others argue improper materials are used.
But not enough responsibility is being placed on the very method by which builders are chosen to construct projects. The fundamental flaw of low bidding is that nowhere in the process are built-in checks and balances that ensure skilled workers have the powers to do the job right and where quality is tested, not taken for granted. Consumers and school boards have far more deficiency protections when buying a vehicle than when picking a builder.
BCs Fair Wage legislation, which requires the use of skilled workers, doesnt stop contractors from cutting corners in efforts to save money and win low bids. In fact, in 1996 the BC Carpenters Union documented and protested the use of unskilled labour in the construction of Riverside, a Fair Wage project. Our warnings of shoddy construction fell on deaf ears and now Riverside is stuck with expensive leaks.
Still, some insist we should simply trust builders that they will do the job right, even when they out bid the nearest competitor by an amount that can only mean cut corners.
The ICBA, a lobby group for contractors, continues to argue that we should let the industry self-regulate its quality control. They would like us to trust the very builders who have milked taxpayers of millions of dollars of repairs to 4-year-old schools.
The ICBAs tale isnt surprising since this is the same group that says the leaky condo problem is rooted in the Building Code. According to them, the public is asking for too much when it expects builders to point out design or building code flaws before they build. The ICBA wants us to trust the school builder who says trust me when he knows, supposedly beforehand, that the code he builds with will cause leaks.
Clearly, our construction tendering process needs an overhaul. The BC Carpenters Union has long argued that instead of low bid we need lowest qualified bid. Qualified means credible, skilled and not operating on a fly-by-night business plan.
This is not unlike tendering processes used in heavy industries such as smelters, pulp-mills and dams. Here project owners are nervous of errors or leaks and seek to award jobs only to those with solid credentials.
Most would not accept a contractor who uses the building code as an excuse for a fatal flaw in a newly constructed boiler. We should also not accept excuses for leaky schools and condominiums. Builders should not bid a project if they know its fundamentally flawed.
The low bid system has evaporated an atmosphere of trust needed to get the projects done right the first time. Low bid only beats down quality and wages to the lowest common denominator before the construction has even begun.
The real cost is an atmosphere of distrust, disloyalty and worker deskilling that ultimately hurts the entire industry and soaks taxpayers for schools theyve paid for nearly twice.
Presidents committed to finding a solution to raiding charges against CAW
Labour Fed leaders condemn CLC sanctions
The presidents of the Federations of Labour across Canada have chosen to speak out on the current dispute that is tearing the Canadian Labour Congress apart.
Accepting their duty to ensure a united, vibrant and strong labour movement in Canada, 11 presidents of the provincial and territorial labour bodies, in a joint statement, deplored the dispute between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) that has seen sanctions imposed on the CAW for supposed raiding.
The effect of the findings of an impartial umpire that the CAW is guilty of raiding, has been the imposition of sanctions as required by our constitution. As a result, hundreds of CAW representatives have been removed from CLC bodies across Canada and this will weaken the entire labour movement, the presidents said.
Calling the loss of CAW representation a step backwards for all working people, they encouraged the Congress and the unions to find a solution, sooner rather than later.
Stating that any escalation of this dispute is unacceptable to us and the people we represent the presidents served notice on the Congress that they are committed to doing everything we can to help reach a solution. This includes renewing the debate about how the CLC constitution treats conflicts between raiding and the rights of workers to change unions.
CLC President Ken Georgetti said that, contrary to published reports, the CAW was not expelled from the CLC. The current sanctions applied under the provisions of the CLC constitution fall well short of expulsion.
Georgetti continued, the CLC was simply upholding its constitution (by issuing sanctions against the autoworkers and barring them from holding office or sending delegates to the CLC or local labour bodies.)
The sanctions were applied against the autoworkers after 30,000 SEIU healthcare workers in Ontario voted overwhelmingly to leave their American dominated organization and join the CAW. The Service Workers International refused to accept the verdict of its members and placed the eight locals under trusteeship and is suing the renegade leaders personally for millions of dollars, said CAW President Buzz Hargrove.
According to Congress rules, it is virtually impossible for workers to switch their membership from one union to another; as a result, the decision of the eight locals to join the CAW technically constitutes raiding, said Hargrove.
Our actions are motivated by a deep-seated commitment to union democracy, informed by our own bitter experiences with unaccountable leaders, he said. The CAW was formed only 15 years ago because the Americans running our parent organization put their own agendas ahead of the preferences of their Canadian members. We cannot watch as the aspirations of other Canadian workers are similarly sacrificed.
Hargrove said The CLC needs new rules governing membership disputes between unions. He continued, some leaders seemed content to accept huge concessions and other setbacks, so long as the dues kept coming. And if union members are prevented from democratically selecting new representatives, then the gradual decline and bureaucratization of Canadas labour movement will continue.
Stating that every union must respect the democratic rights of its members to freely choose their own representatives, Hargrove concluded, Its far better to take a few risks to revitalize the hopes and dreams of the rank-and-file union members than to watch the steady degeneration of a business-as-usual institution.
Former longtime CLC President, Dennis McDermott, took the Congress to task for its constitutional interpretation that violates the dictates of common sense.
He said that although he did not wish to see the house of labour divided and urged all concerned to seek solutions, I cannot understand or accept the action of the Canadian Labour Congress, emphasis on Canadian, ordering some 30,000 Canadian workers to stay in their American union whether they like it or not.
Some labour commentators have suggested that the CAW has many enemies in the Congress who secretly delight in their present plight. Several large, American controlled organizations have previously run head-on into the CAW organizing juggernaught.
(mug shot buzz hargrove)
CAWs Buzz Hargrove motivated by commitment to union democracy
(click for more on CAW/CLC)
Labour Day Something To Celebrate
By Jim Sinclair President, B.C. Federation of Labour
As summer comes to a close and the first Labour Day of the new century approaches, people across British Columbia have good reasons to celebratebut those reasons may be very different, depending on your situation.
Small business has good reason to celebrate the contribution unions have made to consumers purchasing power. Conservative estimates show that union workers in BC make about $4.50 more per hour than non-union workers. With 35 percent of the workforce earning more money because of union contracts, the benefits are enormous to our province and our communities, including small businesses. Just the difference in wagesnot including benefitsgenerates an additional $5 billion dollars annually in British Columbia. That moneyin workers pockets -is spent in local communities.
The wealthy have good reason to celebrate too. Statistics Canada reports the wealthy families in this Province have never been wealthier. The problem is not that the wealthy do not have enough moneyin Vancouver there is a line up to buy luxury cars worth more than $100,000, and a hot market for multi-million dollar homes. Admittedly, the wealthy may not celebrate the fact that in just over a decade Canada has gone from having almost no food banks to more than 2,000. But in my experience, details like that have never dampened the mood in the boardroom.
Big business certainly has cause to celebrate, and one of the highlights of their party will be to sing another chorus of praise for deregulation. Remember how we were told that deregulation would be great for all of us? Now we see natural gas prices skyrocket in BC because we are competing with the U.S. to set the price. The same big business coalition that pushed privatization and deregulation of BC Gas is now pushing to deregulate and privatize BC Hydro.
This year, we can still celebrate the fact that we enjoy some of the cheapest (and cleanest) electric power in the world, but how long will cheap rates last if we deregulate BC Hydro? Of course, there probably wont be many people from the BC Interior at the Howe Street partythey will be left waiting for a flight as a result of airline deregulation.
So what can BCs working families celebrate this Labour Day? Plenty.
We can celebrate our affordable and efficient network of public services, including education and health care systems that help all of us, regardless of the size of our pocketbook. We can also celebrate the fact that we have weathered the impact of the recent Asian economic crisis without succumbing to business demands to chop public services, and our economy is on the upswing again.
We can celebrate the fact that we have maintained a minimum wage standard that ensures most workers earn a living wage and that improving the minimum wage is on the current political agenda. And we can celebrate the fact that we have improved many workplace standards for non-union workers.
But the one thing I will be celebrating most the first Monday in September is the energy and commitment of thousands of men and womenmembers, activists, shop stewards, staff and leaders in the labour movementwho through our work, have made a huge difference to the lives of all working people.
Ill take particular satisfaction in celebrating the fact that more than 12,000 new members have joined BCs unions in the past year, despite a longstanding right-wing argument that unions had outlived their usefulness and were no longer relevant to new generations of working people.
Together, lets celebrate this Labour Day by recommitting ourselves to a society that prides itself on respecting workers rights to collective bargaining and a decent income.
Lets re-affirm that making British Columbia a better place for all citizens does not include cutting back public services, privatizing Medicare and lowering the minimum wage for young people.
And lets continue to create more reasons for working families to celebrate every day.
(click for history page)
Shopworkers celebrate 50 years
Haggarty recalls struggle and triumphs
In February, Local 1928 Shopworkers celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a wine and cheese and Pin Night. Special guests included former officers of the Local Bill Towstego George Drybrough and Peter Greenaway. Congratulatory letters were sent in by former officers Dave Streb and Les Spiro who could not attend.
Local 1928 President Pat Haggarty outlined the 50-year history of the Local, recalling former disputes, court battles, certifications, organizing drives and remembering former executive officers and business agents of the Local.
There were moments of remembrance to mark the passing of former officers Charlie Peace, Nick Unrau and Brother Bob Rawes.
All attending members received a 50th anniversary commemorative pin. As well, regular pins honouring years of service to the Local were presented to: Don Crawford and George Mitro 35-years; Hans Puschmann, John Christien, Glen Frank, Gaspare Caparale, 30-yrs; Bob Salisbury, Fred Nagel, Leo Dominic, Michael Leong, 25-yrs; Mike Zimeras, Carl Bey, Roger Lafrance, Chandra Jit, 20-yrs; Greg Toombs, Ray Reignier, 15-yrs; Mike Sonoff, Roger Milne, Peter Zimny, Geoff Cornwall and Dylan Haggarty, 10-yrs.
The only casualty of the evening was Peter Zymny who fell and broke his hip (requiring emergency surgery to place four pins). The worse news is that while recovering nicely from that surgery, Zimney had another incident where he fractured his hip again.
(picture Don Crawford, George Mitro, 35-years service)
(picture 30-years: Hans Puschmann, John Christien, Glen Frank, Gaspare Caparale)
(picture 25 years: Bob Salisbury, Fred Nagel, Leo Dominic, Michael Leong)
(picture 20 years:Mike Zimeras, Carl Bey, Roger Lafrance, Chandra Jit)
(picture Local 1928 Shopworkers 15-year members Greg Toombs and Ray Reignier)
(picture 10 years: Mike Sonoff, Rober Milne, Peter Zimny, Geoff Cornwall. Inset is Dylan Haggarty)
Kamloops Pin Night
(picture Receiving pins, left to right: Len Wal 45-yrs, Myron Yachiw 35-yrs, Tom Nishikawa 50-yrs, Don Clark 30-yrs, Harry Cherney 25-yrs, Guenther Peemoeller 35-yrs, Guy Paille 20-yrs, Fernand Samson 25-yrs, Chuck Cadarette 20-yrs, Colin Cusworth 30-yrs, Jake Fehr 25-yrs, Rudy Waloszek 25-yrs, Andy Mault 30-yrs. Olaf Duemler, 25-yrs, is not in photo)
Kamloops Pin night honours pioneer Local 1540 members
Earlier this Spring, Local 1540 Kamloops honoured some of its pioneer members at a pin night.
Tom Nishikawa celebrated 50-years in the Local while others marked fewer years. Also receiving pins that night were:Len Wal 45-yrs, Myron Yachiw 35-yrs, Guenther Peemoeller 35-yrs, Don Clark 30-yrs, Colin Cusworth 30-yrs, Andy Mault 30-yrs, Harry Cherney 25-yrs, Olaf Duemler 25-yrs, Jake Fehr 25-yrs, Fernand Samson 25-yrs, Rudy Waloszek 25-yrs, Guy Paille 20-yrs, Chuck Cadarette 20-yrs.
(picture Tom Nishikawa gets his 50-year pin from Local 1540 President Don Clark)
If you are injured
Following these steps could make your experience with WCB much more pleasant.
Report any incident immediately.
Report your incident and/or accident to First Aid, your foreman, and your partner, as soon as you possibly can. Some injuries dont take effect on your body until that evening, the next day, or, possibly the next week. If a First Aid attendant recommends rest until the next day, or if a doctor advises time off work, request it in writing at the time the recommendation is made!
Report the Injury Properly
When reporting an incident or accident, always include: time, place, type and cause of injury, full names of witnesses, full explanation of how the injury occurred and what you were doing at the time.
Collect Witness Information
Ask any witnesses to the incident to write down what they saw, the time and the date, and sign it. This is acceptable proof of an injury. This is especially important if the injury is not visible or if theres a delayed reaction. Many times its up to you to prove that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. If you are reporting the incident to a foreman or an employer, its in your best interest to have a witness present.
Be consistent in your reports
Consistency in reporting incidents is extremely important. You may have to make the same report to First Aid, your foreman, Hospital Admittance, Emergency Room doctor, and your own doctor. Be aware that WCB will receive a copy of every one of these reports, so its a must that each report contain the same information.
Let people know about the pain you feel.
Its important to tell people about your pain. This helps establish and document injuries that seem, at the time, inconsequential. Your partner or foreman may be the proof you need to substantiate your claim at a later date.
Keep All Correspondence
Its imperative that you keep any and all correspondence, including copies of prescriptions, concerning your injury. Keep it in a safe, easy to find, place. If you have verbal contact with WCB, make a short note of what was said by both parties, and the time and the date - WCB does.
It may be extremely difficult at times, but, when talking with WCB, keep your cool. Losing it wont do you any favours whatsoever, and WCB documents all incidents!
Dont believe everything youre told
Dont take the boss, or any other persons word as law. If you have a question, contact your Local Union and well make every effort to answer your questions accurately.
Remember these steps to follow in case of injury
Report any incident immediately
Report the injury properly and fully
Collect witness information
Be consistent in your reports
Let people know if youre in pain
Keep all correspondence
Keep your cool
Dont believe everything youre told
Loss Management firms reported taking over some construction WCB claims handling
From Local 1995 Our Union News
There is a new idea floating around out there about WCB claims management. Some construction companies are reportedly using loss management consultants to help reduce their Workers Compensation costs.
The basic idea behind establishing Workers Compensation legislation originally was to compensate workers injured in the course of their employment without requiring them to litigate their claim. WCB coverage, therefore, insures employers against lawsuits from injured workers.
The cost of WCB coverage is paid by the employer and has formerly been considered cheap and effective insurance. But over the past few years employers have become much more proactive in trying to reduce these costs.
Large employers have seen the benefit of having in-house claims management staff who have implemented injury reduction programs and light or modified duties. In a lot of cases this has been successful as injured workers have been able to return to work and do meaningful work while they recover.
In the construction industry this is more difficult to achieve as employees are usually required on a temporary basis and there is no light or modified work available.
For smaller employers, WC claims management was neither cost effective nor a priority. Now outside management companies are offering employers assistance in handling their WC claims.
A Local 1995 member recently reported that his employer sent him to a Loss Management company for WC appraisal. The company literature claims they can reduce accident rates by 82 per cent and decrease time loss claims by 93 per cent. This company also has their own doctors and claims reporting system.
In their pamphlet, injured workers are not advised to contact the WCB to file a claim. The company indicates it can handle all the paperwork and provide medical advice as well as rehabilitation programs for injured workers.
The WCB legal department is investigating the legality of these claims.
Should you be injured on the job and First-aid or medical treatment is required, a claim should be filed with the WCB. Should you not file a claim and further problems develop later on it is extremely difficult to establish a claim at that time.
Dealing with the WCB can be difficult and complicated and injured workers cannot be expected to know all the rules of the WCB. Therefore they rely on employers or their representatives for advice. Worker advocates have serious concerns about any firm that does not instruct injured workers to file a claim or inform them of all their rights.
To ensure you are being treated fairly by your employer and their representatives, please inform your Local Union if you have had any dealings with a claims management firm, especially if you have been advised that you dont need to see your own doctor or need to file a claim with WCB.
(graphic You havent had a serious accident)
WCB benefits qualify for hour bank credits
Do you know you can apply for hour bank credits for the period you receive WCB benefits?
While you are receiving WCB benefits you are not contributing to your hour bank and it doesnt take long to deplete your hours, resulting in your benefits not being covered.
Should you be on WCB, the Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan allows you five hours credit per day to a maximum of 200 days.
Please note crediting your hour bank is NOT automatic, you are required to make application and it must be accompanied by your original WCB cheque stubs, and received while you are in receipt of WCB benefits or up to 30 days after WCB benefits cease. Please note disability credits cannot apply retroactively.
For more information or an application form contact the Benefit Plan office 604 438-2434.
Victoria hosts apprentice contests
The 38th annual apprenticeship contest for Carpenters and Carpenter-Lathers was held in Victorias inner harbour in May. Jessie Magee-Chalmers of Nanaimo won the Carpentry competition, followed in first and second places by Daniel McNary and Alex Balzer, both of Victoria. Rick Beil of Prince Rupert took the Alfred Horie award for the carpenter who best exemplifies the Trade.
The Lather competition was won by James Andre followed by Andrew Caterino, and Jason Hornbrook, all of Vancouver, in second and third places.
At this years award ceremonies, recognition was paid to previous contest winners, some of whom had had gathered to honour the new contestants.Those present were: Archie Campbell, Victoria, who won the first contest in 1963; Norm Tamboline, Vancouver, 1964; Chris Cottier, Victoria, 1971; Gordon Kissinger, Victoria, 1974; George Zeeman, Victoria, 1980; Tom Skarvig, Nanaimo, 1989; Mike Finster, Victoria, 1990; Steve Thomas, Victoria, 1998; and Chris Martin, Victoria, 1999.
The Carpenter-Lathers built a mock room in steel stud with several different drywall treatments including arches, doorways, an octagonal window and suspended ceilings. The Carpentry apprentices built an L-shaped concrete formwork with a corbel.
Magee-Chalmers and Andre go on to the National contest in Montreal in September.
(picture Carpenter-Lather apprentice contest contestants: (Left) First place winner Jim Andre LU1995, James Ewing LU1995, Scott Coughlin LU1346, Andrew Caterino LU1995 (Second), Jason Hornbrook LU1995 (Third), Brent Reid LU1995)
(picture Carpentry apprentice contestants: (Left) Alan Narcisse LU1995, Glen Swetlishoff LU1995, Chad Pockrant LU1995, Alex Balzer LU1598 (Third), Jessie Magee-Chalmers LU527 (First place), Dan McNary LU1598 (Second), Jason Sawchuck LU1370, Boyd Portz LU2300, Rick Beil LU1735 (Alfred Horie Award winner))
(picture Previous winners: (Left) George Zeeman, Jessie Magee-Chalmers, Steve Thomas, Tom Skarvig, Norm Tamboline, Gord Kissinger, Chris Martin, Chris Cottier, Archie Campbell, Mike Finster)
(picture Judges Mark Swanwick, Frank Galub (in rear), Chris Martin tally marks)
Carpenter Lather Journeyperson Upgrading
The Carpenter Lather Joint Apprenticeship Advisory Committee has the following journeyperson upgrading courses available for presentation.
1. Blueprint Reading
2. Acoustic Tile
3. Steel Stud (Light or Heavy gauge)
5. Stucco Wire/Metal Lath
6. Computer Flooring
Any Carpenter Lathers interested in these courses should contact the CLJAAC office at 604 437-6031 or their Local Union office for courses to be scheduled in your area.
Benefit application forms are being updated
The Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan is currently updating and redesigning some of the forms used to apply for benefits. Two of the recently completed forms are the Bereavement Leave Application for Wage Compensation and the Employee Assistance Program Application for Reimbursement.
Bereavement Leave is payable in the event of a death of the members immediate family: spouse, child, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother, sister, grandfather or grandmother. Benefits are payable to any member covered under the Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan of BC who is employed at the time of the leave.
The Plan will compensate up to a maximum of three days leave from work at 75 per cent of the Industrial Carpenters rate of pay ($156.78 per day). Bereavement Leave is considered taxable income so a T4A will be issued to report the benefit under other income on your income tax return.
Proof of death is requireda copy of the obituary or death certificate.
The Employee Assistance Program is designed to assist members and their families with a wide variety of counselling services currently not available through Medical Services Plan or Pacific Blue Cross. A member must be covered under the full coverage plan ($167 per month) at the time of the counselling appointment.
The program is comprehensive, flexible, and confidential. A referral from your general practitioner is not required. It is the members choice of a legitimate counselling service.
The program is based on reimbursement for services rendered when an original paid receipt is submitted. The yearly family limit is $550 which will be reimbursed at 80 per cent. The most you will be reimbursed per year is $440 even when the member is covered on another plan and the Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan is the secondary carrier.
Services not covered
1) Any services provided by the provincial government or a government agency. (including Workers Compensation Board or the Insurance Corporation Of British Columbia).
2) Any services provided by the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan.
3) Any services provided by an agency established within the Provincial Council of Carpenters Collective Agreements.
Claim forms are available at the office of the Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan Of BC, or at each local union office located throughout the province.
Original paid receipts for each counselling appointment must be submitted or the claim will not be reimbursed.
Please contact the Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan office at 604 438-2434 for further information
28 yrs Working for the membership
Celebrating 28 years working for the members, Carpentry Benefit and Pension Plan employee Jill Schrier retired in March. She says she went after the job originally because she needed dental work and the Carpentry Workers had a good Dental Plan. She stayed out of interest and dedication.
Jill remembers the day she discovered it was okay to wear pants in the office despite the dire predictions of administrator John Anatooshkin.
John said, the girls dont like pants. Turns out John didnt like pants. The girls wore them gladly, especially on cold winter days!
(picture Jill Schrier cuts the cake at her retirement party in March)
(Picture Jeff Roger, Local 1995)
Jeff Roger retires after 24-years service to the Carpenters Union
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Please accept my sincere thanks for the support I have received from you over the last 24 years.
It has been my privilege to work for you as a Warden, Recording Secretary, Business Agent, Organizer, and Vice President for the local union and also on the Provincial Council Executive Board.
As well, I have made good friends, and met the hardest working and best tradespeople in the world, without a doubt.
Our union membership has much to be proud of in the way the Carpenters Union has been in the forefront on many issues and activities over the years.
Many of you have been prominent at rallies, marches, protests, and picket lines, as well as volunteering your skills and time to good causes and charities.
You have built, as volunteers: Variety Club homes in Delta, Boy Scout facilities, and Canuck Place in Vancouver, Playground equipment, and Playhouses, and many others too numerous to mention.
With your co-operation, we have forced non-union contractors to pay $1.5 million to their employees when we found them cheating on overtime, holiday pay, and Fair Wage legislation, etc.
As well, you have helped the union organize contractors, and tradespeople into the union.
Yes, our successes may be fewer than in the good old days, but if you work with your current Executive Board and Staff we will achieve success, and regain our work at decent wages and conditions.
Working for the union membership has always been interesting, in that you never knew what each day would bring. It was often stressful, but I can honestly say that I never had a single boring day during my time on staff.
I want to also publicly acknowledge the encouragement, advice and support that my wife Liz gave me, particularly when things got a bit frustrating, and difficult as they did on occasion.
I strongly believe for union officers to be able to do their work properly, their spouses must also believe in what they are doing, and in that regard I have been very luckyThanks Liz!
Working with various contractors on the Carpentry Apprenticeship and Training Committee has been a great experience, and we can all be proud of our Apprenticeship Programs for Carpenters and Lathers.
The record speaks for itself at the National and International Contest levels where our apprentices have excelled over the years.
Thanks also to the founders of our Benefit and Pension Plans, who made early retirement possiblethanks to all the secretarial staff over the yearsyou do great work.
I am asked often lately, what will I do in my retirement? Well, since July 26 Liz and I have been very busy with family and visitors, we have joined a hiking club, and cycle quite a lot, and plan to do some travelling. I am also working out at the gym, trying to get the old body back in shape, for as Liz says, not entirely tongue in cheek, that I am twice the man she married.
In closing, I wish you all Health and Prosperity, and thank you again.
Jeff Roger, Local 1995
Control of Canadas water has been yielded to the US by NAFTA
By Mel Clark
Contrary to the reassurances of federal politicians, Canadas water resources are not protected under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). They were protected under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which gave Canada complete control over its water, but in signing NAFTA the federal government in effect yielded control of the countrys water to the United States.
Now that the GATT has been superseded by NAFTA, however, Americans are given the same rights as Canadians to our water. NAFTA cancels our right to tax water exports to the US, overrides the constitutional right of the provinces to control the water within their boundaries, and accords US corporations the right to sue the federal government if itor a provincefails to respect the terms of NAFTA. Nowhere in NAFTA is there any wording that gives Ottawa or the provinces the right to limit or embargo water exports to the US.
Under NAFTA, National Treatment is unlimited and permeates every right and obligation that is not specifically excepted from itand there is no exception for water. This means that Americans are now free to demand that our governments accommodate their water interests, even if this means amending, rescinding or ignoring all existing relevant laws, regulations and policies.
NAFTA Article 103:2 states: In the event of any inconsistency between this Agreement and such other agreements, this Agreement shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency, except as otherwise provided in this Agreement. There is no exception for the Boundary Waters Treaty or the GATT provisions relating to water.
NAFTA Article 105 states: The Parties shall ensure that all necessary measures are taken in order to give effect to the provisions of this Agreement, including their observance, except as otherwise provided in this Agreement, by state and provincial governments. There is no exception for the provinces to control the water within their borders.
Inevitably, sooner or later, the Americans will invoke their NAFTA rights to take substantial quantities of water from Canada. NAFTA denies our federal and provincial governments the right to stop such exports.
The Chrétien government has been criticized for allegedly not having a water strategy. But in fact it adopted a specifically permissive strategy when it implemented NAFTA. All subsequent reassuring statements to the contrary have been designed to conceal this central fact from Canadiansincluding the 1993 McLaren/Kantor Joint Declaration, amendments to the Boundary Waters Treaty Act, and the federal proposal that the provinces prohibit water exports.
Two NAFTA Chapter 11 cases suggest that bulk water exports to the U.S. could begin soon after the next federal and British Columbia elections. The first case arises from the claim of Sun Belt Water Corporation of Santa Barbara, Calif. for $10.5 billion from the federal government to compensate it for damages caused by BCs embargo on bulk water exports from that province. The embargo was imposed under the BC Water Protection Act, which restricts shipments of water to bottled water and water in tanker trucks. Sun Belt contends that the embargo infringes on its rights under Chapter 11 of NAFTA.
The Chrétien government has been discussing this claim with Sun Belt for the past two years, and in doing so has implicitly acknowledged that the company has a legitimate case under NAFTA. Sun Belt naturally wants to obtain wateror compensation in lieu of wateras soon as possible, whereas the Chrétien government wants to delay a settlement until after the next federal and BC elections. (What is the government offering Sun Belt to persuade it to be patient? Is the BC government participating in the discussions? Are the federal Liberals sharing information about the Sun Belt talks with the BC Liberals?)
In the second Chapter 11 case-and the only one Canada has so far settled-the U.S. Ethyl Corporation effectively demolished Ottawas attempt to protect our health and the environment from an insidious neurotoxin contained in the companys MMT gasoline additive. It forced the government to lift an embargo on MMT imports, to retract statements made by the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment, and to pay Ethyl $19.3 million for lost revenue.
If NAFTA gives Sun Belt similar rights and powerand it very probably doesthe result by 2001 or 2002 could be massive water exports to California from BC. This would open the floodgates to a wave of water exports to other parts of the U.S. from other provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
The only way to prevent this loss of our water is by terminating NAFTA (and the FTA) and returning to trade with the Americans under the GATT.
Of course, no federal governmentwhether Liberal, Tory, Reform, or even NDPwould ever seriously consider withdrawing from NAFTA or the FTA, since all four parties are either deeply committed to these free trade agreements or resigned to living with them. That leaves the only hope for regaining control of our water with the provincial governments. Any one of them, or all in concert, could very likely prevent water exports by challenging NAFTA in the Canadian courts.
They could make a strong case that the enforced export of their water under NAFTA intrudes directly on important areas of provincial jurisdiction and thus contravenes the division of powers under the Canadian Constitution.
But will any of the provincial governments launch such a challenge? On the answer to that question hinges the fate of one of our most precious resources.
(Mel Clark is a former Canadian government senior trade negotiator.)
Abridged from The CCPA Monitor, July/August 2000. http://www.policyalternatives.ca