On The Level December 2003
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Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a peaceful New Year from
the officers and staff of the British Columbia Carpenters Union and
its affilated Local Unions and District Councils.
We wish you peace in the world, sovereignty and freedom in Canada
and unity in the house of labour. Please have a safe and happy holiday
season and thank you for your support over the past years.
|Joint bargaining council formed||PRESIDENTS CORNER by Len Embree|
|COUNCIL COMMENT by Dave Flynn||International settlements reached|
BC Carpenters vote for freedom
Affiliation ballot decisive win
British Columbia Carpenters Union members have voted decisively to sever ties with their International parent in Washington DC.
In a referendum ballot in November, members voted overwhelmingly to cease their affiliation with the Washington dominated United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and seek an alliance with a Canadian Union.
Our members are clearly demanding freedom
from American control, said BC Carpenters Union president Len Embree in a statement issued after the ballot result was released by the accounting firm of BDO Dunwoody.
The ballot mailed to members asked Do you wish to transfer the affiliation of the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters and its affiliated Local Unions from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America to a Canadian Union? The membership voted 82.9 per cent in favour.
Embree said, This is the clearest demonstration yet that the members of the BC Carpenters Union are determined to control their own destiny. They demand the right to elect their own officers and representatives and to vote on decisions that affect their livelihoods.
Reacting to numerous American takeover attempts, BC Carpenters have indicated in several referenda that they will not tolerate American interference in their elections of officers and business representatives or the merging of Local Unions or negotiating collective agreements.
Embree said that those collective rights have been fought for over generations and We are not going to hand that over now, or ever.
Embree continued, Only as a free and autonomous organization will we be able to make the changes necessary to grow and properly represent Canadian workers.
Vancouver The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada and the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters recently announced the formation of a joint council between the two unions.
The announcement follows the decision by BC carpenters in a referendum vote to sever relations with their former international union.
This Council represents the solidarity between CEP and BC Carpenters. It is the beginning of a new relationship that will fulfill the long-held aspiration of carpenters in BC for a progressive, Canadian union, said CEP President Brian Payne.
BC Carpenters have now voted democratically and without any involvement by CEP or others to chart a new course for their membership, said Payne.
This partnership can mean more job security and employment opportunities for our members, said BC Carpenters Union president Len Embree. It will help us address the growing problem of non-union contractors and gate hires doing construction and maintenance work in large industrial plants. It will also promote more solidarity and co-operation between our Industrial and School Board sectors.
Its a win-win for both unions, said Embree. This alliance makes both unions stronger.
The council will be known as the Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Bargaining Council (CMAW) and is mandated to represent workers in all aspects of construction, maintenance, industrial, shipbuilding and public sector employment.
CMAW applies for first certification
Joint Council set to represent flooring contractor
An application for certification under the new Construction Maintenance & Allied Workers Bargaining Council has stirred a hornets nest at the Labour Relations Board. When the BC Carpenters Union applied to certify Above Grade Flooring under the new joint council, a large contingent of Building Trades and International Union supporters applied for intervenor status to what should be a straignt forward certification application.
Lawyers and representatives for the BC & Yukon Building Trades, the Ironworkers, the Construction Labour Relations Association, the UBCJA (through those Locals that continue to support them: Locals 527 Nanaimo, 1370 Kelowna, 1541 Floorlayers, 1598 Victoria, 1907 Mission, 2397 Fort St. John School Board) all applied to be represented or have a watching brief at any possible hearing.
The LRB vice-chair Greg Mullaly dismissed most of their claims for intervenor status, accepting only the construction carpenter locals affiliated to the BC provincial council. The vice-chair will accept submissions from the eligible parties prior to determining whether a hearing will be required.
In order to address any concerns about the integrity of the vote, the accounting firm BDO Dunwoody conducted the mailing out, collection, and counting of the referendum ballots. The ballots were mailed out at the end of October, and were to be returned by November 14. On November 17, BDO Dunwoody reported the referendum results to the Provincial Council. Over 3,000 ballots were returned, with 83 percent supporting the proposal that we transfer our affiliation from the International to a Canadian union. Although most had expected that the referendum would pass, only the most optimistic of us thought the level of support would be that high. It was very reassuring for the Provincial Council officers and rest of the Executive Board, as the results clearly validate the positions we have taken on behalf of the membership for the past seven years in resisting the Internationals attempts to restructure your union.
In anticipation of a positive result in the referendum, the Provincial Council also entered into negotiations this autumn with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, to create a new joint council, which could be used as the vehicle for our two unions to enter into an affiliation agreement. The draft constitution for the new Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Bargaining Council was presented to the Provincial Council Executive Board immediately after the referendum results were known. At a meeting held November 21, the Executive Board approved the proposed CMAW Bargaining Council constitution and, by a unanimously supported motion, instructed the Provincial Council to affiliate to the new council. The constitution of this new council was signed by the officers of both the BC Carpenters Union and the CEP, and filed with the Labour Relations Board on November 24. The new council now can apply for certification and enter into collective agreements on behalf of its affiliated unions.
It has been widely known for some time that the leaders of a few Local Unions around the province support the International, and that, with total disregard for the wishes of the majority of members in BC, they have been actively working against the Provincial Council. A classic example of this unwavering International support is the reaction of the leadership of Local Union 1598 Victoria to the referendum results. In a desperate attempt to block the Provincial Council, Local 1598 union officials have signed their members to representation cards and applied to the LRB to raid nine employers away from Provincial Council certifications. This bizarre move has labour relations officers scratching their heads, wondering what exactly the Victoria leadership is hoping to accomplish. As an affiliate of the Provincial Council, Local Union 1598 already is party to the certifications of these employers. They apparently are raiding themselves.
If these applications are allowed to proceed, it would mean that the Victoria local union could take advantage of local members hired under the terms of a province-wide agreement to expand their bargaining rights, to the detriment of all the other Carpenter local unions in the province. Taken to the extreme, if every local union were able to raid itself out of the Provincial Council, there could be sixteen different competing collective agreements around the province. Simply put, it would be a recipe for chaos.
The Provincial Council cannot stand by and allow the tail to wag the dog. We will be opposing the raid applications filed by Local Union 1598 Victoria. In a democratic structure, after all, the majority should rule, and 83 percent is a pretty significant mandate.
If nothing else, this result puts to rest the Internationals silly assertion that this struggle for autonomy was being driven by a small number of the leadership in BC. Quite the contrary; as the President of the Provincial Council of Carpenters, I cant help but be invigorated by the involvement of the members and the clear direction they have given to the leadership.
It does, of course, beg the question of how the small minority of leaders who support the International can justify their actions in ignoring what clearly the majority of our membership have supported by this vote.
Of course, they may see no contradiction, considering that they support the Internationals position of disenfranchising the members. It really has taken an effort to differentiate between fact and fiction emanating from the International gang. One more glaring example has come to light with the agreement by the International to pay us $60,000 in costs incurred in the Section 10B lawsuit. Now, lets see; I thought their position was that they had won the 10B lawsuit. Oh, well! Who can keep up?
The position of the Provincial Council is abundantly clear. The membership has strongly expressed their position,
and the Executive Board is obligated to carry it out. Not complicated, in my opinion. The members have instructed us to get on with the job. They want us to help them build a new and vibrant organization.
At the time of this writing, we are seeing more machinations out of the International gang regarding certification of contractors, and challenges from Wayne Cox of Victoria as to who has bargaining rights. One of the more refreshing results of this nonsense is the decision by at least the leadership of Local Unions 527 Nanaimo, 1907 Chilliwack-Mission, 1370 Kelowna, and 2397 Fort St. John (School Board) to come out into the light of day supporting plaintiffs Cox and Autzen in an LRB action against the Provincial Council. Refreshing, because at an 82.9 per cent result, simple arithmetic says they dont even represent the majority of their own membership. This type of situation is usually rectified by the membership. I have every confidence that this eventually will take place in this circumstance, as well.
Over the next period of time, the task will be to work closely with the CEP to determine what form the new council that we have affiliated to will take. Coupled with CLRA bargaining, this should be challenging, to say the least.
Unfortunately, some of the other building trades not all, by the way have decided to align themselves with the International in this struggle. While this is not surprising, this could prove to extend the time it takes to resolve all of the issues.
Once again, it has been a very busy year. And a very positive one. Everyone, in my opinion, has risen to the occasion.
It has taken a collective effort to reach this point in our struggle, and I am extremely proud to be part of that effort.
On behalf of the Provincial Council, I would like to wish all of our members and their families the best of the festive season and a peaceful and happy New Year.
This fall, the BC Provincial Council applied to the courts for its costs and expects to receive the cheque in the very near future.
In Madame Justice Browns judgement on the Internationals attempt to enforce Section 10B of the UBCJA constitution and take over the Provincial Council books in June of 2000, she characterized General President McCarrons actions as being in bad faith and the British Columbia membership as being adamantly opposed to McCarrons plans for restructuring. This opposition was clearly reinforced with the recent referendum result of 83 per cent in favour of transferring affiliation to a Canadian body.
In the settlement, those Locals and Councils that were not paying for officers and representatives as of November 1, 2003 will not be required to pay past or future pension contributions for those employed before that date but would be required to pay on behalf of any eligible officers and representatives hired or newly elected after that date.
Those officers and representatives who did not have International Pension Plan contributions made on their behalf will be required to sign waivers and release forms ensuring that they will not sue the International for pension benefits at a later date.
Vancouver Local 1995 has been unable to reach a settlement because former officers Brent Mayne and Rick Klyne want to have contributions made on their behalf to the International Plan in addition to the contributions already made to the BC Plan.
When BC Carpenters are successful in severing ties with the International, as they voted to do in November, the issue of the International pension becomes academic, according to Provincial Council President Len Embree.
The only Locals required to make contributions will be those that remain affiliated to the UBCJA, he said. Most Locals take the position that officers and representatives should have the same pension entitlement as the membership and will not pay for an extra golden handcuff to ensure their loyalty to the International.
International Pension cost increase
In a related issue, it is interesting to note that the General Executive Board of the UBCJA has arbitrarily increased the contribution rate paid by the Regional Councils in the United States to the Internationals US Officers Pension Plan by over 20 per cent.
Citing the poor performance by the US economy, the GEB raised the contribution rate from 13 per cent of earnings to 16 per cent in May to protect the representatives pensions. There was no opportunity provided for members or delegates to vote on this use of their dues money.
+++++++ Minutes of the UBCJA GEB May 12, 2003
Other sites of interest include:
Carpentry Workers Pension & Benefit Plans of BC www.cwbp.ca/
BC Federation of Labour www.bcfed.com
CLC home page www.clc-ctc.ca
CEP home page www.cep.ca
Canadian Autoworkers www.caw.ca/index.asp
CUPE BC www.cupe.bc.ca
Labour Start (labour news) www.labourstart.org/canada/
Straight Goods (news) www.straightgoods.com/
Working TV www.workingtv.com/index.html
David Shreck (analysis) www.StrategicThoughts.com/
Parenting with Dignity www.parentingwithdignity.com
Third World Development www.heifer.org
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