|The BC Provincial Council recent referendum results are in. There were six ballots, each with separate issues. Every ballot was overwhelmingly supported in every local which participated in the referendum vote. Ballots Four and Five regard recent forced local mergers attempts by the International.
The average support for all six issues was over 96%.
The breakdown of each ballot is as follows:
Ballot One (Standardize Travel Pool Fare): 95%
Ballot Two (Strike Pay Starting on first day): 98%
Ballot Three (Executive Board Representation for Shipbuilders Local 506): 96%
Ballot Four (Retain BC Provincial Council of Carpenters as your bargaining agent): 98%
Ballot Five (No forced mergers without vote): 96%
Ballot Six: (Authorize Executive Board to Cover Legal and Defense Costs with Strike and Defense Funds): 95%
Council sets vote on constitution issues and restructuring
Province-wide ballot called for September
COUNCIL COMMENT by Dave Flynn
September should prove to be a very busy month for the Council officers. The Provincial Council has requested that every Local in the province have a special - called meeting during the month of September for the purpose of conducting province - wide membership referendum votes. The Council officers will be available to attend many of these called meetings in order to answer any questions the members may have on the issues
There are two issues being addressed in the referendum: constitutional amendments to the BC Provincial Council Constitution and Bylaws, and a vote related to the International's proposed restructuring.
The constitutional amendments should prove fairly straightforward. Over the past several Provincial Council conventions, there have been constitutional amendments approved by the delegates. Some of the changes were very minor, and were simply implemented as codifications. Other amendments are more substantial and require membership approval through a referendum vote. The recent decision of the Marine Shipbuilders Local 506 to reaffiliate to the Provincial Council was conditional on the assurance they would be represented on the Provincial Council Executive Board. This required amendments to those sections governing representation to provide that each affiliated Industrial Local shall elect one Executive Board member. The proposed amendments were approved by the convention last April. Membership approval is the next step in the process of amending our constitution.
In the meantime, Local 506 representative Bob Eaton has been a welcome addition to our Executive Board, and after an absence that lasted far too long, it is great to once again have participation from the Shipbuilders.
Other constitutional amendments included with this referendum cover the section governing the formula for pool fare to equalize the transportation costs of delegates from different areas attending convention, and the section governing rules for strike and lockout pay.
Probably of greater interest to most members will be the referendum ballots related to restructuring. From the outset of the restructuring issue, the Provincial Council has maintained the position that any changes to the current structure must be approved through a referendum vote of the membership.
In recent correspondence received from the International's General Executive Board Member Jim Smith, he states that there is no constitutional requirement for a referendum vote. What the International doesn't get is that the UBC constitution does not supersede the law in British Columbia. Irrespective of the moral obligation of allowing the members to decide on the structure of their union, there is a legal requirement that members be given a vote on any change to their bargaining agent.
Board Member Smith also states that the International does not have a proposal for restructuring in BC. What then does he call the correspondence from the General President advising that he is considering establishing a Full Service Council on Vancouver Island and merging six Locals into three? The pattern in other regions has been that these original proposals of what the General President is considering are shortly followed by an edict declaring the new structure to be put in place.
At a meeting in Port Alberni on July 7, General President McCarron clearly stated he would not agree to allow the membership to vote on proposed mergers or the formation of Regional Councils and he would not allow the members to elect the founding delegates and officers of Regional Councils. He believes the UBC constitution gives him the power and the right to make those decisions on behalf of the members and to appoint the right people to carry out his wishes.
This position is totally unacceptable to the Provincial Council. It is our intention to give the membership a vote, with or without McCarron's permission. Obviously, the Council would like to see a large turnout for the referendum. I would encourage members of every Local to attend the called meetings in September to voice your opinion on restructuring and to cast your ballot.
Province-wide Referendum ballots set for September
The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters will be holding referendum votes in the various Local Unions around British Columbia to deal with various constitutional matters.
There will be votes held at special called meetings to ratify convention decisions to amend the constitution that will standardize pool fares, clarify commencement dates of strike or lockout pay, and expand the number of Executive Board members. This last item is to facilitate the reaffiliation of Marine and Shipbuilders Local 506 to the Council.
There will also be ballots containing two questions on restructuring of the BC Carpenters Union. These questions are designed to help protect your rights in any possible litigation that may occur. Please take the time to consider them carefully and please attend your Local Union meeting and cast your vote.
The two questions are:
1. Do you wish the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters to retain its jurisdiction as your Bargaining Agent in British Columbia?
2. Do you wish to have Local Union mergers determined by majority vote of the affected membership?
The Provincial Council recommends you cast your vote to protect your democratic rights to determine the structure of your organization. Contact your Local Union for meeting times and locations.
Vancouver Island shuns GP McCarron
BC Carpenters delivered a resounding message to General President Douglas McCarron on Vancouver Island in July. Chanting "Vote, Vote, Vote," 140 members walked out of a meeting with the GP in Port Alberni because he refused to concede that the members have the right to vote on the structure of their organization.
Previously, in a letter to Vancouver Island members, McCarron had proposed establishing a Regional Council on Vancouver Island that would see the enforced merging of six Local Unions into three and the appointment by him of a Secretary - treasurer and Regional Council officers and delegates.
In an attempt to bee seen as consulting the membership, McCarron scheduled meetings in Port Alberni, North Island, Nanaimo, Duncan and Victoria. BC Provincial Council president Len Embree opened the meeting in Port Alberni by asking the GP two very simple questions:
"1. Do the members have a right to vote on the proposed merger of their Local Unions and the creation of the Regional Council? and
2. Do the members have a right to elect the founding delegates and officers of the Regional Council? Yes or No."
When McCarron said, "The answer to both those questions is no," Embree stated he would not lend dignity to a "charade to tell people they are going to be denied their democratic rights," and walked out.
With that, almost the entire room stood as one and left the meeting, chanting "vote, vote, vote." The last one out turned out the lights, leaving McCarron and his sidemen Dan McCarthy and Jim Smith sitting in the dark.
Later, McCarron was overheard telling an irate retired member that the reason he was denying members a vote was, "because I have the power and authority."
Most members refused to attend subsequent meetings around the Island, staying outside to protest the proposed removal of their democratic rights, Only Victoria had a sizable turnout for McCarron's meeting with about 90 attending, comprising a large contingent of contractors and retired members. A handful attended in Nanaimo, and none came out in North Island and Duncan.
McCarron's proposed Vancouver Island restructuring would see the forcible merger of Duncan Local 1812 into Victoria 1598, Port Alberni Local 513 into Nanaimo Local 527 and Powell River Local 2068 into North Island Local 1989. Most members interviewed stated they were opposed, not so much to mergers, as to the method of forcing Locals to amalgamate with no opportunity to vote. They also are not prepared to willingly give up their right to elect their Local and District representatives.
Council offers referendum on key restructure questions
Is your pension safe from the International?
PRESIDENT'S CORNER by Len Embree
Is my pension safe from the International? This question being asked by numerous members needs a direct, truthful answer. A simple, straightforward commitment from the International ensuring that they wouldn't tamper with the election of Pension Plan trustees would have alleviated a tremendous amount of anxiety. They weren't prepared to make those assurances. Quite the contrary - they have stated quite clearly in fact, they will try to take that right away. That leaves the Provincial Council with the onerous task of explaining this issue to our members. I will attempt this in as straightforward a manner as possible.
First, a quick explanation of our structure around the Benefit Plan and Pension Plan and their Boards of Trustees. The process starts with the members deciding by referendum on an amount out of the negotiated wage package to be applied to provide certain benefits and pension amounts. Both the Benefit Plan and the Pension Plan are administered under trust agreements. Trustees are elected at the District Councils from the various geographical areas of the province, as designated in the Provincial Council constitution and bylaws.
The Board of Trustees, with the Plans' administrative staff, then administers the trusts according to the direction received from the membership through resolutions adopted at annual conventions. It is an inclusive process that is membership-driven.
The public record of both the Benefit and Pension Plans would indicate a very successful model with growth every year. Compare this to the record of the International who contracts out their administration, whose investments are currently under federal investigation, who may have to deregister their plan in Canada, and who has had large membership protests of costs and service levels.
So, to the question, "Is my pension safe from the International?" The short answer is, "Any earned pension to date is covered by both federal and provincial legislation." Consequently, any earned pension is safe. It cannot be taken away.
The problem arises, however, with future pension and future policy affecting the members' pensions. In the worst - case scenario, trustees would be appointed by the International and would be accountable to whoever appointed them. Consequently, there would be no safeguards for maintaining any membership direction into the policy of the Plan.
Would the International want early retirement, disability pension, self-payment options, and so on if they aren't prepared to allow our members a vote on the Plan's trustees? I think it's fair to question whether they would maintain the Plan as it exists. Would they maintain the present investment policies? Their record in the US would indicate otherwise.
With the Benefit Plan, there has been a contingency fund in place for many years, reported on at every convention. It has allowed the trustees to maintain a fairly consistent level of benefits regardless of the economic state of the industry. Would that attractive nest egg be maintained, or would an appointed board offer the contractors a premium holiday? Who's to say? What we are sure of is that over 25 years, the membership's involvement has developed Benefit and Pension Plans that best serve their needs.
It's patently obvious that the International's so-called restructuring has very little to do with restructuring and everything to do with gaining control over the members in BC and their assets. It is also obvious that they have to disenfranchise the membership to do this because the majority of the members do not support their proposal.
You will have an opportunity in the September referendum to express your support for maintaining the structure of our Benefit Plan and Pension Plan. We urge you to take full advantage of that opportunity.
Local 506 rejoins BC Provincial Council of Carpenters
Shipbuilders welcomed back to Council
Delegates to the 56th Convention of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters in April were extremely pleased to welcome the Marine and Shipbuilders back into the Council after an absence of a dozen years. Local 506 business manager Robert Eaton said his Local looks forward to active participation in the Council.
"Our membership in the Council will make for a stronger Local 506 and a stronger Council," he said. "We look forward to reinforcing our position in areas such as workers' health and safety, labour education, government and media relations, organizing and jurisdiction. In return we believe our membership's unique industrial perspective will have a positive impact in Council matters."
A special constitutional resolution to the convention welcoming Local 506 back into the Council agreed that it is in the best interests of the Union and can only lead to a stronger union at all levels to have every Local Union affiliated to the Council.
The convention resolved to enlarge the Executive Board to include a provision for Local 506 to hold an industrial vice-president position.
McCarron's restructuring tied up in Ontario courts
Litigation continues as the International tries to impose its restructuring model in Ontario. The laws in that province prevent parent unions interfering in the autonomy of local unions. Local unions outside Toronto oppose McCarron's restructuring plans and the dispute is being fought at the Labour Relations Board.
Lesson to be learned about protecting democratic rights
by Doug McCorquodale
An International craft union opposes its Provincial council craft counterpart. Both parties decide to facilitate their views through talks. These talks break down. The International tries to gain control of the Provincial union. An overwhelming majority of members in the province opposes the International. Is this the story of the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters and the International United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America? Yes, but it is also the story of the Ontario Bricklayers local unions that make up the Ontario Provincial Conference (OPC) of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen and its American based International, the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen (IU).
In 1995, the Provincial Bricklayers, through the OPC, tried to restructure their union to gain greater Canadian autonomy at the same time as the International tried to gain control of the Ontario Bricklayers. The talks to resolve the dispute between the parties failed. By 1997, the OPC gained approval from its affiliated locals to withhold sending check-off dues to the International.
In the Ontario construction industry, the labour relations laws are set up for sectoral bargaining in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional construction sector, ICI. For some peculiar and largely unknown reason, both the International and the provincial OPC were the declared bargaining agents in this labour relations system. The International never took responsibility for negotiations. Not at the table, at meetings, with ratification votes or monetarily. In the 1998 negotiations the International insisted on raising the union dues check-off in the agreement from 33 cents to $1.35. With proposed training funds deductions, that would raise the International union dues check-off to $2.90 per hour. This $2.90 hourly rate was in addition to the $8 monthly over-the-counter dues sent to the International. All this money was to be sent directly to the American parent union in the USA. In exchange the Ontario Bricklayers would receive nothing back.
Therefore, in February 1998, the OPC applied to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to remove the International from bargaining unit status in the construction ICI sector. Minutes before the scheduled hearing to do this, the International put Ontario Provincial Conference Locals under trusteeship. At the hearing, the International informed the Labour Board that Ontario was under trusteeship, claimed jurisdictional control, and tried to rescind the application to eliminate the International's bargaining rights.
The International ws unsuccessful. The Board maintained bargaining rights for the OPC and eliminated bargaining rights for the International. Later, the Board granted a successorship application to the OPC. This allowed the OPC to transform itself into a Canadian union, the Brick and Allied Craft Union of Canada.
The labour laws in Ontario prevent a "parent union" (usually with headquarters in the United States) from suspending the autonomy of a "local union" in Ontario, unless there is "just cause" to do so. The Ontario Labour Relations Board determines what "just cause" means in any particular case. the Board has the power to modify or stop a trusteeship, even if the American parent union had just cause to impose it in the first place.
The Ontario Labour Relations Act is clear: the "autonomy rights" articulated in section 149 prevail over any provision in the union constitution, and also prevail over any other provision of the Labour Relations Act itself.
Ontario has good legislation to deal with egregious Internationals based in the USA which are running amok. These laws greatly assisted the Ontario Bricklayers to remove themselves from an oppressive situation. We need such legislation in British Columbia to preserve the autonomy and democratic rights of British Columbia workers. Our BC trade union movement and government would do well to note this.
Spotlight on organizing by Josh Coles, provincial organizer
Union construction starts on upswing
Despite what contractor negotiators say, we are now experiencing the beginning of a Lower Mainland construction mini-boom.
The Local 1995 (Vancouver-New Westminster) dispatch board is very busy. From May 1st to press deadline there have been over 510 dispatches with most to long-term jobs. There are now more Carpenter members working union than unemployed on the board.
Carpenter-lathers are so busy that we recently couldnt supply to our contractors, forcing Modern Drywall to take the unprecedented step of placing a newspaper ad requesting lathers.
The Provincial Organizing Program seized this opportunity and placed its own newspaper ad that spurred a huge response from non-union lathers and steel-stud workers looking to join.
One high-rise residential drywall contractor phoned the Provincial Organizing Program asking if he could get on the board along with the rest of his crew!
So where is all this work?
Some of it comes from our contractors increasingly winning and negotiating competitive commercial bids. Alfred Horie recently won a long-term job at full rate, Artec, Modern, Optima, Turner Brothers and others are winning work steadily.
Dominion Construction remains the union employer for the $19 million Canada Way Business Park in Burnaby. Dominion also has over $40 million worth of BC Gas building construction throughout the Lower Mainlandall union.
Bosa Construction (union) has lots of work including the $26 million Central Park Hotel in Burnaby and the $6 million condominium on Cambie.
The huge Skytrain extension is in full swing with dispatches already sent to the construction of the pre-fab plant. More are upcoming for the large guideway and tunnel sites. It was announced in August that over 55 union carpenters will be employed for more than two years manufacturing pre-fab guideways.
The Journal of Commerce reported in August that Portside, Western Canadas largest construction project at over $850 million, will likely be underway in the fall.
Concert Developments (formerly Greystone) is busy doing several condominium developments that keep many of our members busy.
All this and more, plus the upcoming month-long October complete shut-down at Port Mellon that will see over 750 trade workers involved, with the largest percentage being Local Union 1995 members at the full industrial rate.
Increased employment means opportunities for organizing. Its a chance to remind non-union workers that we have more and better work.
It also bodes well for negotiations since contractors hate to admit how busy they are when asking for wage concessions.
We need to remember, however, that where there is boom there is bust. Cyclical construction patterns highlight one thing: each day worked on a big job is one day closer to the last day worked. The only way to cushion the impact when work slows is to lock in a higher market share.
Union members still hold responsibility for promoting not only our unions big jobs, but also that all carpenters need to be represented. Every worker in BC deserves the conditions we enjoy on the big jobs, whether they are building new schools and hospitals, a strip mall or that downtown condo.
Boom or bust does not have to be the motto for BC Carpenters. We are about to enjoy a steady rate of union employment and now is the time for all members to become organizers, talking one-on-one with our non-union Sisters and Brothers.
Now if only we could ensure that when they join, theyll have the right to vote.
Pre-cast plant underway
Skytrain Extension means work for union carpenters
55 carpenters will find good jobs at pre-cast plant
The Skytrain pre-cast plant being constructed in Port Moody will be built and operated under traditional craft lines, says Local 1995 president Marty Smith. Smith, along with Provincial Council president Len Embree, helped hammer out an agreement between SAR Transit, the corporation structured to build the ALRT extension, the Cement Masons, Operating Engineers, Ironworkers and Labourers that will see all work done to build and operate the plant assigned along trade lines.
The pre-cast plant will manufacture the guideway sections that form the track for the ALRT. Smith expects the project to employ 55 to 60 carpenters for up to two years.
Carpenter members are at work now building the plant, including the piles and foundation work, and erecting the structure, Smith said. When the plant is up and running we will assemble and disassemble the forms for the pre-cast guideway beams.
Smith said he expects the work for the construction of the guideway support columns will be subbed out at a later date.
Len Embree said the pre-cast plant is expected to enjoy smooth operations.
The trades agreed to have a lead steward on site to help facilitate labour relations on this industrial job, he said.
There has also been preliminary discussions with Walter BFC for the cut-and-cover tunnel planned for Skytrain in New Westminster. Smith expects there should be six to seven months of work for about 20 union carpenters on that site.
The job is similar to the Cassiar Connector where they excavate a trench, build a concrete tube and cover with earth, Smith explained.
Embree said he is optimistic about the construction industry for the next period. Hours are up and it looks like we are well on the way to recovering some of the market, he predicted. Contributory hours reported to the Carpentry Workers Plan office have been up in May and June and preliminary results for July are looking good, Embree said.
Non-union contractors have recently being crying the blues about lack of work, while union contractors are gearing up for a vastly improved year.
Excerpt from Carpenters Union Advocates Manual
Employment Insurance handbook for Carpenters - notes for members
Changes members should know
The Employment Insurance Act, a fundamental restructuring of the old Unemployment Insurance program, was fully implemented in January, 1997. From a system that covered most workers, it has been reduced to cover fewer and fewer workers for fewer and fewer weeks receiving less and less money. Meanwhile, billions are confiscated by the federal government and transferred to general revenue.
The changes of the Act and the name from Unemployment Insurance to Employment Insurance did not, as you might think, create more employment, but instead allowed less insurance. Although many provisions have yet to be tested in the courts, Carpenter Union members should be aware of the changes before applying for benefit.
When you apply for EI benefits, it is the role of the Employment Insurance office to do two things:
make certain that you get all the benefits to which you are entitled;
help you return to work as soon as possible.
The second role often causes a dilemma for many members when applying for EI benefits. Construction workers are different than many applying for EI benefits because we have a hiring hall or dispatch system.
Changes to the Act
A major change to the Act was the move to have the Employment Insurance system based on the hours of paid work. The principle of the hours system is the same, regardless of whether you work full-time, part-time, as a seasonal worker or as a worker employed by more than one employer. The hours that you work and for which you are paid are accumulated toward eligibility for EI benefits. This ensures that you are credited for all paid work time. This applies to overtime, which is calculated hour for hour, no matter the rate of pay.
Eligibility for benefits
Eligibility for benefits is calculated by the information provided on the separation certificates or Records Of Employment (ROE) submitted when applying for EI benefits. It is important to check the information on your ROE(s) carefully to ensure that it includes all the hours worked for that employer for the time period covered by that separation certificate. As well, it is essential to submit an ROE from every employer.
The total hours worked becomes an important factor in determining for members who work less than 35 hours a week. It is important to keep all payroll records, time sheets or any other documents which will help support the hours worked.
The Employment Insurance booklet states that most people need between 420 and 700 hours of work within the last 52 weeks, or since the start of their last claim whichever is shorter. The number of hours required is also dependent on the unemployment rate in their region. In some cases, as many as 910 hours will be needed to qualify. The table below, from the EI benefits information booklet, outlines how the regional rate of unemployment affects the number of hours of insurable employment required in the last 52 weeks.
Regional unemployment rate Required hours of insurable employment in the last 52 weeks
0% to 6% 700 hours
6.1% to 7% 630 hours
8.1% to 9% 595 hours
9.1% to 10% 560 hours
10.1% to 11% 525 hours
11.1% to 12% 490 hours
12.1% to 13% 455 hours
13.1% and over 420 hours
There are some exceptions to this table:
if you are in the work force for the first time, you will require more hours of insurable work. You will need a minimum of 910 hours in the last 52 weeks to qualify;
if you are re-entering the work force after an absence of two years, you will, in most instances, need a minimum of 910 hours of work for which you paid EI premiums in the last 52 weeks to qualify;
if you apply for sickness, maternity or parental benefits, you will need 700 hours of work. For further information on this exception, see EI publications on Employment Insurance: Maternity, parental and sickness benefits.
To apply for regular benefit
1. Go to the nearest Canada Employment Centre and apply for EI immediately. Take the records of employment your employers gave you when you stopped working, but dont wait for them. If you dont have the records you should still file your EI claim right away. Pay stubs or pay envelopes can be used to set up a temporary claim until Employment Canada can make your employer cough up with a record of employment. Ask the employer for the records twice then go to the Canada Employment Centre for help if they are not forthcoming. It is not your responsibility to go after slow employers.
2. Be sure to take identification, especially a Social Insurance card (SIN Card) when visiting Employment Canada.
3. Waiting before filing an EI claim is one of the biggest mistakes unemployed workers make. Dont wait for anything. Dont wait for records of employment, dont wait for medical certificates (if required), dont wait because you think you may have a job. The two-week waiting period begins when you apply for EI benefits, not when you leave your job, so apply right away.
1. You must have an interruption of earnings (one week without work or pay).
2. You need 910 hours to qualify.
3. To receive regular benefit you must be willing and available for work and actively looking for work. The Act states that if you have historically procured employment through a union dispatch board, you may consider for a reasonable time that placement on the board is your job search. Since neither the Act nor the Commission will spell out what is a reasonable time, one must assume that the discretion lies with the local Human Resources office.
4. Keep a record of job searches.
5. Special benefits, such as maternity and sick benefits may be available with only 700 hours rather than the 910 hours.
6. Even if you think you are short of hours, you should still apply.
When payments begin
A question members commonly ask is, How soon can I expect my first cheque from EI? EI staff will tell you that, if provided with all the information, including all separation certificates for the last 52 weeks or all separation certificates since the last application for benefits, you should receive your first cheque within four weeks if you qualify for benefits. It is essential to complete the application for benefits and report to the local EI office as soon as you are out of work.
Another question is, How much EI benefits will I receive? The basic benefit rate is 55 percent of average insured earnings up to a maximum payment of $413 per week. Depending on your personal circumstances, your benefit rate could be higher or lower than 55 percent; however, the maximum payment will not change.
If you are in a low-income family (less than $25,921) with children and you receive the Child Tax Benefit, your benefit rate could be higher than 55 percent. Talk to your EI counselor about the Family Income Supplement.
If you have been on EI before, your benefit rate could be lower than 55 percent. The Employment Insurance Act introduced a new factor, the intensity rule. This rule states that if you have drawn regular benefits in the past, then future benefit rates could be adjusted and reduced. This rule affects many who could be laid off up to three or more times during the school year.
Under the intensity rule, the benefit rate is reduced by one percent for every 20 weeks of regular benefits claimed since June 30, 1996. The minimum reduction is five percent if you collect more than 100 weeks of benefits over five years.
The EI booklet cites the following example to show how the intensity rule impacts a claim:
In 1999, Johns average weekly insured earnings are $450 when he makes his EI claim. His EI history shows that since June, 1996 he has already claimed 63 weeks of benefits. Therefore, his weekly benefit is reduced from 55 percent to 52 percent of his weekly insured earnings. He would receive $234 a week instead of the $248 he would have received if he didnt have the previous claim.
We are all entitled to EI benefits if we meet the qualifications. If you are denied benefits or believe you are being unduly harassed:
you should contact your local union and/or your federal MP;
you should use the appeal process under the Employment Insurance Act;
meet with your employment officer at local HRDC office to discuss the decision and provide any relevant information;
if you still wish to appeal, you must write to your local EI office stating clearly what decision(s) you disagree with and why you feel the decision(s) is/are incorrect. This must be done in writing within 30 days of receiving the EI decision.
It is important that workers understand they may be disqualified for a number of reasons ranging through quitting without just cause, being fired due to misconduct, having insufficient weeks, not actively seeking employment or limiting their availability for employment.
Dont limit your availability for work by stating you will only work in your local area. Dont state a limiting wage amount you will acceptthe going rate is a safe, usual phrase used.
Conduct a suitable job search that will enhance your ability to get a job. You are expected to look for work even though there isnt much available. The longer you are out of work the more you have to expand your search. It is not enough to just register at your Local Union dispatch. Ask around and phone or visit contractors or other possible job prospects (some may be unlikely possibilities but will look good on your list). Keep a record of people or companies you have talked to about work.
The following quote appeared in an article in the Report to Labour newsletter by the Federal Labour Caucus, January, 1998. The EI fund has a large surplus (currently $13 billion) at the expense of workers who have been denied benefits
In 1990, 87 percent of all unemployed workers were in receipt of EI benefits. Today that figure is under 40 percent. The federal Liberals are using the $20 billion surplus in the EI fund to combat the debt at the expense of workers. A Canadian Labour Congress report on UI shows that by 1997 only 36 per cent of unemployed qualified for benefits under the new rules, with less than half that in major cities. The rule changes also cut the benefit weeks in half. For information on the CLC national campaign to protest EI cuts, see Left Out in the Coldthe End of UI for Canadian Workers available at <www.clc-ctc.ca> or phone (613)521-3400 fromCarpenters Union Steward/Advocates Manual, CLC faxnews, and OSSTF Update.
The foregoing article is an excerpt from the Carpenters Union Advocates Manual for Business Agents, Stewards and activists. For more information on your rights and responsibilities under the new EI Act, please contact your nearest office of Human Resources Canada or your Local Union office.
Barrett starts second leaky condo inquiry
by Bill Duncan, Local 1995 organizer
The spectacular financial failure of the New Home Warranty company has prompted the BC government to re-institute the Barrett Commission of Inquiry into the leaky condo crisis.
Condo owners have been left in the lurch by the collapse of New Home Warranty with condos left partially disassembled, wrapped in tarps and waiting for workers to get back to the job. This is unlikely to happen until someone comes up with the cash to pay for the work.
So far, only the provincial loan program is in place, as the federal government has refused to assist in any meaningful fashion.
Dave Barrett will also study financial support programs and review other issues around mortgage loan insurance. He is expected to complete his report by the end of October.
The re-institution of the Barrett Commission was partly due to increasing frustrations of condo owners who are finding little or no help in dealing with their problems. At a rally outside the federal cabinet offices at Canada Place, planned in part by Carpenters Local 1995, victimsone after anotherdescribed their disappointment at having nowhere to turn for help. Many told horror stories of spending thousands for repairs that did not address the leaking problem and indeed are rotting out as fast as the original work.
The original Barrett commission initiated legislation establishing the Homeowner Protection office (HPO) that now ensures that new home owners realize the benefits of residential builder licensing and mandatory new home warranty protection.
Faced with a litany of horror stories about unsatisfactory and incomplete condo repairs, HPO has also submitted a proposal for legislation for licensing of restoration contractors which should be introduced by the new year.
The Carpenters Union has continued to survey leaky condos in the Lower Mainland. Our on-going survey indicates that water damage has now presented itself in a multitude of mid and high rise structures. Field reports from affiliates in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island lead union officials to believe that the magnitude of the problem is far worse than was originally estimated and may exceed $1 billion.
Many condo owners are finding that the repairs being made to their buildings are a total waste of money. A critical deficiency has been the lack of worker skill and time allowed to do the job properly by unlicensed, unqualified restoration contractors.
The Carpenters Union is trying to get the message out that quality does matter.
The union is lobbying municipal governments about technical issues related to the causes of water infiltration and its consequences and is recommending immediate examination of wood-frame multi-residential properties and the establishment of a high standard of general and sub-contractor licensing, trades qualification standards and a meaningful warranty system for the restoration industry.
Local 1995 and Westminster Quay hosted two contests in June
Apprenticeship contests bring out the best
Carpenter and Carpenter-Lather apprentices showed off their skills in New Westminster, June 26, in joint provincial apprenticeship contests held at Westminster Quay. This was the 37th annual provincial contest for carpenters and the 21st opportunity for wall and ceiling workers (Lathers) to demonstrate their trades to the public and each other.
The apprentices constructed their practical projects on the waterfront walkway in front of the Westminster Public Market. Hundreds of admiring passersby stopped to appreciate the garden shelters and demonstration rooms built by the recently graduated trades people.
Carpenter-Lather contest great success
Carpenter-Lather Joint Advisory and Apprenticeship Committee co-ordinator Ralph Hryhorczuk thanked the apprentices and volunteers who worked so hard to make the annual Carpenter-Lather apprenticeship contest such a great success.
Four Carpenter-Lathers competed to see who could make the best walls, doorways, arches, window openings and ceilings of drywall and metal lath, demonstrating the various tools, materials and techniques they will use on the job.
Jason Davies of Local 1995 who currently works for Optima Building Systems was the overall Carpenter-Lather winner and will represent British Columbia at the national contest in Toronto, August 25 to 28, 1999. Clint Mio of Local 1995, from Gallagher Brothers, was second and Kurt Babcock, Local 1995, of Turner Brothers, was third.
The three CLJAAC judges Bill Duck, Harry Fulljames and Ron Mutch had their work cut out for them as the skills of all four apprentices were very closely matched. Local 1995 judge Bill Duck said the point spread that decided the winners was the closest he had every seen. Points ranged from 517 to 540, said Duck. thats only 23 points between first and last less than one per cent, he explained. The apprentices were judged on a written test as well as their practical project.
The CLJAAC would like to thank the following volunteers who were instrumental in making the Lathers apprenticeship contest a success: Serba Dimitijevic, Bill Duck, Bill Forbes, Wayne Howatt, Brent Mayne, Gary Norwood, Robert Norwood, and Steve Thibert. Their selfless contribution was very much appreciated.
The following sponsors also deserve recognition for their generous contributions, says Hryhorczuk: Association of Wall & Ceiling Contractors of BC, Carpenters Local Union 1995, Dewalt Industrial Power Tools, Serba Dimitijevic, Gallagher Brothers Contractors, Modern Drywall and Mantane Construction Products.
ICBA quotes GP figures in leaflet
McCarrons Voodoo Economics ... Harmful Propaganda
By Doug McCorquodale
Our American based leadership has assisted the propaganda of the non-union open shop construction industry in British Columbia. In a letter from General President McCarron to BC carpenter union members he announced our market share has fallen to a disastrous low of about 12 per cent leaving us little leverage in collective bargaining. The open shop construction organization, the Independent Contractors and Business Association, picking up that figure, has quoted it in a leaflet being posted on non-union construction sites.
The leaflet boasts that its claim that 75 to 80 per cent of construction is non-union may be incorrect and a recent letter from the General President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America suggests that our estimate may be too low.
However, the effects of McCarrons estimate or Voodoo proclamations are harmful to union carpenters. Presently, in several areas of the Province, Locals have near full employment and are having difficulty dispatching members to work. The Locals, as always, are trying to increase their membership. The latest evidence for this was in the press recently. The employer-dominated unions that are allied to the open shop sector (rat unions) are litigating for work that is signatory to the Building Trades Unions. The news article quotes the rat representatives as saying that their work is rapidly drying up.
It has been no secret that recent times have been bad for union construction workers. The non-union sector has grown over the last seven years despite improvements to the Labour Code. Bargaining has been difficult, with the employers insisting on cuts. Non-union workers have enjoyed a booming employment market and are fearful of joining a legitimate union.
It would be shameful if our President continues to damage our efforts to recover the industry. His voodoo 12 per cent claim and interfering relations with union contractors is making negotiations difficult. The employers are seeking rollbacks at the negotiating table. The employers seem to be waiting for a more accommodating leadership in the Carpenters union to give them the cuts they are seeking. Now Mr. McCarron further discourages the non-union from joining with his false and outrageous 12 per cent claims. He would best serve the membership by keeping himself and his opinions at home in the USA.
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