and Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful New Year
Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a peaceful New Year from the officers and staff of the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters and its affilated Local Unions and District Councils.
We wish you peace in the world, sovereignty 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.
Autonomy, Recall, Just Cause, Limits on Officers, Agreement Ratification, Amendments and Dues highlighted
Major constitutional points outlined
Now that weve had some time to examine the proposed new constitution for BC Carpenters, reprinted in the November On the Level, we can look at the major points and how they should affect our organization when they are adopted.
Constitution Committee chair Pat Haggarty says he is well aware that the document is not perfect and will require much amending to iron out the kinks but explains, The Constitution is a living document that grows and changes through the years. The important thing is to establish those defining first principles and make necessary amendments as practice dictates over time.
Haggarty said the Committees first priority in drafting the proposed BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Constitution was to guarantee the democratic nature of the Union and to enshrine the right of the membership to vote.
The proposed Constitution, according to Haggarty, is an amalgam of the present Provincial Council Constitution and the International Constitution of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Much of the language has been lifted with very little change directly from those documents and so should be familiar to anyone who has studied them, but there are several critical changes and additions that make the new Constitution unique in North America.
These other defining issues, according to Haggarty, are: autonomy; recall; protection of individual and Local Union rights (just cause); limits on executive power; collective agreement ratification; an effective constitutional amendment process; and membership control of dues and finances.
Canadian Autonomy The new Constitution is a stand-alone document without any reference to an American parent authority. All mention of the UBCJA and the General President and General Executive Board in Washington has been deleted altogether or replaced by local or provincial authority.
Recall All officers (including the President), delegates, trustees or representatives of the BC Carpenters Union and its Committees, Plans and Funds can be recalled mid-term if the membership is dissatisfied with their service. This is a new feature and can be found in Sections 23-F, 25-M, 26-G, 27-G, and all of Section 36.
Just Cause For the first time, this Constitution provides that no actions can be taken against an individual or a subordinate body without the Council having to demonstrate that there is a clearly demonstrable reason or legal just cause for the actions. This legal term protects individuals, Local Unions or District Councils from arbitrary or capricious supervision or trusteeships from the parent body. It can be found in Sections 4-D, 7-R, 8-B & E, 11-H, 14-N, 32-A.
Presidential Powers The Provincial Council President must obtain the approval of the Provincial Council Executive Board and be able to demonstrate just and reasonable cause before acting on any points of law or imposing any supervision or seizing any books or records of any Local Union or other subordinate body or disciplining any individual. Section 8-B, C, E to H.
Ratification Those working under any collective agreement are guaranteed the right to ratify negotiated changes in a referendum ballot. Section 8-F and 46-H.
Amendments Constitutional Resolutions endorsed by the Annual Convention or submitted by the Provincial Council Executive Board or presented by three Local Unions representing at least 25 per cent of the membership will be submitted to membership approval by referendum vote. Section 60A to D.
Dues Minimum Dues and per capita increases are subject to referendum approval of the membership. Section 49-A. Local working dues and fees are to be set by the Local Unions or District/Regional Councils. Section 49-C.
Members are encouraged to attend Local Union special-called meetings in their area to discuss the changes. The Committee will also try to print answers in On the Level, to any written questions that you may send in to:
305 - 2806 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC, V5R 5T5
fax 604 437-1110.
The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Executive Board wishes to thank the ten members of the Constitution Committee for the dedication they showed and the long hours they devoted to develop the proposed new BC Provincial Council Constitution.
The Committee members are:
Bob Eaton Local 506
Pat Haggarty (Chair) Local 1928
Tony Heisterkamp Local 1346
Paul R Nedelec Local 2300
Brent Rogers Local 1237
Jim Senior Local 1989
David Sewell Local 2106
Randy Smith Local 1995
John Starkey Local 1812
Brian Zdrilic Local 2736
Prince George Carpenter Pride: Local 1998 Carpenters display an emblem they assembled from a Canadian flag sticker they pasted over the UBCJA logo. The guys wanted to express their pride, said BA George Jalava. They are proud of their trade, of their union and of their country. The job is the new Northern RCMP Centre that has employed about 30 carpenters for the past six months.
On the Level December, 2000 page 2
Victoria Local President Cottier takes issue with Council President Embree over article
Why was Cox asked to leave Exec Board meeting?
Dear Brother Embree:
I am writing in response to your Presidents Corner in the last issue of On the Level where you attempt to discredit the integrity of our representative, Brother Wayne Cox. Your comments are unfair, inaccurate and do not provide the whole story. The Executive and Membership of Local 1598 request that this letter be published in On the Level so that all members may know the whole story.
First, why is General President McCarron seeking to audit the Provincial Councils books under Section 10B of our Constitution? According to the lawsuit he is concerned that the Provincial Council is taking steps to break away from the Brotherhood. Local 1598 has expressed to the Provincial Council that we do not support changes to the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Constitution designed to break away from the Brotherhood, nor do we have any interest in joining the Autoworkers, Paperworkers or any other union. We are carpenters and have a long history in this Union.
Secondly, contrary to your columnthe books are not being seized! The lawsuit simply deals with an audit of the books at the Provincial Council offices by KPMG auditors. KPMG has conducted an audit of Local 1598why are you afraid of an audit?
Finally, your comments about our Business Manager, Wayne Cox and Local 1541 Business Manager, Mike Autzen are cowardly. It seems to be that anyone who disagrees with you is called names and forced out of Executive meetings where they represent us.
If you are holding meetings with other unions, why dont you let us in on it? Why dont you tell us your big plan instead of pointing the finger at two representatives who want the issues dealt with up front like they should be.
Your characterization of our representative was shameful and uncalled for. As Union Brothers and Sisters we have a right to expect better treatment.
President, Local 1598
Conflict of interest rules apply to plaintiff
BC Provincial Council President Len Embree has issued the following response to the letter from Local 1598 signed by Brother Chris Cottier
What part of my article was not factual? Wayne Cox is a plaintiff in a law suit against the Union. Does not Plaintiff Cox call Washington with every little tidbit of information that may get him strokes as a good lad? Does he not think he will be standing in the right spot when McCarron appoints a CEO for the whole of a forcibly merged Vancouver Island with the unfettered power to run the Union his way?
How is his integrity challenged by asking him to abide by conflict of interest rules endorsed by his own legal counsel? By the way, who is paying for that counsel?
People are not asked to leave meetings just because they disagree, and Plaintiff Cox should be the first to admit to that. He was asked to leave for the portion of the meeting that was to deal with the Councils defence of a law suit initiated by himself. He is suing the council and yet still expects to be able to sit in on discussions for the defence? There is no court in the land that would compel the defendants to discuss their defence in front of the plaintiffs.
The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters has the books audited every year. The audit is a matter of public record. You can rest assured, Washington has a copy on file. General President McCarrons demand to search the files had nothing to do with an audit, he was on a fishing expedition, looking for excuses to put the Council under supervision, even the court agrees that is a valid interpretation (see the November On the Level).
Cox, sitting on the Executive as Vancouver Island Vice-President, is supposed to represent the membership of the whole Island. How do you think the members in Duncan and Port Alberni and Campbell River and Nanaimo and Powell River feel about his law suit against their Union?
No, there are no secret negotiations with other unions. That would be premature. The BC membership has not yet had the chance to decide if they want to become an independent union, let alone how to achieve that end. I have spoken to many organizations that have queried us about what is going on. They read the papers, including On the Level. Several organizations have offered us support in our struggle to protect the members right to vote. But that is a long way from entering into negotiations.
When the membership makes a democratic decision to restructure our organization, then we will talk about details of how to achieve that. Until then, unfounded accusations and incriminations do nothing to promote unity and progress.
If Plaintiff Cox wants to go to court to oppose what seems to clearly be the members desires, that is his business. But he shouldnt be upset if members call him on it.
Len Embree, BC Provincial Council President
Now is the time to take the next step
To the editor:
As a long service member of this Union, I am very pleased to see an overhaul of the Constitution.
I am very happy to see the dictatorial International wording replaced with accountability, membership rights for democracy and recall.
Our Local, similar to others in the province, has had to decrease staff (Business Agents) due to finances.
This proposed Constitution includes a provision to recall an officer if the members feel that they are not being represented fairly or as they direct.
Accountability is an issue that has been debated at our Annual Convention and its time we see it included in this proposal.
Canadians have talked about autonomy for more than 20-years. BC has been the leader to this end. Lets take the next step.
Rupert will miss Joe the Frenchman
Lucien Langlois, 19312000
Local 1735 Prince Rupert lost another colourful longtime member in November. Lucien (Joe the Frenchman) Langlois, who joined the Local in 1964, was always known as a character. He will be remembered by the Prince Rupert membership for his practical jokes and non-stop teasing. Every Rupert member has a story about Joe, but some of my favourites involve him phoning dispatch and requesting 20-30 guys for a big job. The give-away was the thick accent and the fact he needed them on site within the hour.
Joes great love of animals led him to try to claim Margaret Langlois (his cat) as his spouse on his income tax forms. Things were going great until Margarets SIN number showed up invalid.
In the last few years before retiring, Joe would pick out a likely prospect in the lunch room (usually young and impressionable with a weak stomach) and at home he would put the labels from Margarets cat food on some tinned fruit. Making a great show of eating the cat food, he would exclaim in his heavy Quebecois accent, gonna retire soongotta get used to the taste.
Joe was justly famous for thinking outside the box, coming up with unique, if not exactly kosher solutions to problems. One involved a job moving a small warehouse for ICG Propane from Seal Cove to Cow Bay, a distance of some two miles and involving at least 150 residential power and telephone hookups that would have to be moved to accommodate passage of the building down 6th Avenue.
The regular moving contractors all bid the job based on barging the building around to Cow Bay to minimize the service interruptions and expense. Joe underbid them dramatically. When asked, Can you do it? he replied nonchalantly, again in his thickest accent, No problem.
So, after spending all day Saturday with his crew at premium time jacking and blocking the warehouse, sometime after dark he borrowed a flatcar from the CNR railyard and towed it down the siding to Seal Cove, loaded the building up and towed it back along the siding to Cow Bay, missing all the hydro lines and avoiding any trucking costs. By sunup the building was in place and the railcar returned to the yard with no one the wiser. ICG Propane never did find out how their building miraculously appeared on site Sunday morning. Joe said he, made buckets of money on the job.
Joes humour and enthusiasm for life and the ladies will be sadly missed by all who knew him. He is survived by Margaret Langlois (his cat) his two sisters Lucienne and Fleurette, his many friends and all the young women he promised to put in his will but never did.
Sadly, in solidarity: Ken Lippett, Local 1735 Business Agent
On the Level December, 2000 page 3
Kelowna Local 1370 members are active volunteers in the community
Kelowna Local 1370 BA Terry Sawiuk reports the Local has been doing some community volunteer work over this past summer. The HOSOTO House helps homeless and lower income families get by. The Local was asked to help them build a porch to house the supplies provided for the street people. Several Local 1370 members got involved in obtaining material donations and the actual construction itself. Sawchuk Developments and OK Builders Supply donated materials for this worthy project.
Gina, Mike, Bruce, Sharon, Kelly, Dave and Jim completed the project in one day to many thanks from Leanne Stanyer, the founder of the house.
The North Okanagan Labour Council sponsored Kelownas first Annual Family Softball Tournament this year. The Local 1370 team won. Kandi Gillet (team captain) is shown receiving the trophy from Local President Bill Pepper.
Pepper also got to present a Journeyperson certificate to Matthew Hiscox in September.
Local 1370 will continue its community volunteers work this fall by participating in the Owl Rehabilitation project in Oliver, BC. This non-profit organization looks after injured birds of prey found in the Southern BC area. The Local will help build a new holding area and flight cages.
Matthew Hiscox gets his papers from Local President Bill Pepper
Team Captain Kandi Gillett receives softball trophy from Local President Bill Pepper
Local 1370 volunteers build HOSOTO House porch for access by street people
Seasons Greetings from Local 1928.
The past year has been reasonably successful in negotiations for Shop and Display Workers Local 1928. Steps are being taken to conclude our last four sets of contracts.
We started in February 2000 with:
West Bros. Frame and Chair achieving 2.38 per cent and 1.7 per cent and 1.7 per cent over three years.
WK Industries negotiations attained 1 per cent, and 1.5 per cent plus $0.05 and $0.07 increase in pension plan over two years.
Cove Tops Ltd. employees got a signing bonus in the first year equaling 5 per cent plus 5 per cent pension. The second year will see 2 per cent with a further 2 per cent in the third year.
Display negotiations still has four contracts not yet concluded. Of those contracts settled:
Levy Show Se
rvice won 1 per cent and 2 per cent and 2 per cent in wages and 15 cents and 5 cents and 5 cents RRSP.
Kingstar Products settled out at 2.4 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.0 per cent.
Hi-tek Doors ended up at 2 per cent over each of two years.
In 2001 we have seven different sets of negotiations coming up. Work has been reasonably steady in millwork, light metal and display.
We hope for a minimum of a repeat year or perhaps a slight increase in hours.
On January 22, 2001 we will hold our Special Called meeting to deal with the constitutional amendments and we will mark our ballots in February as will others. The Local Executive is strongly recommending acceptance of the proposed changes.
Also, on February 26th, the Local will be having its annual service pin night.
On behalf of the staff and officers, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and, we hope, better New Year.
Pat Haggarty, President Shop and Display Workers Local Union 1928
School Board News
The examination of collective bargaining structures in the K-12 Education Support Staff sector is still under review. That is the latest word from Industrial Inquiry Commissioners Irene Holden and Vince Ready.
The Industrial Inquiry Commission was appointed by the provincial government following the passage of Bill 7 in the Spring that ordered striking CUPE support staff back to work.
The Public Education Support Staff Collective Bargaining Assistance Act (Bill 7) was passed after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) conducted strikes in School Districts throughout British Columbia. As a protest of this gross infringement of free collective bargaining, 300 CUPE members walked out of the BC Federation of Labour Convention last month (nearly one-third of all the delegates) when Premier Ujjal Dosanjh addressed the convention.
In September, CUPE adopted a position that there must be province-wide bargaining in the K-12 system. The Carpenters responded that if there is province-wide bargaining, all the unions must be involved, not just CUPE.
One of the tasks of the IIC was to review bargaining structures in the K-12 school system. A deadline for the review was initially set for November 30, 2000. On November 24, the IIC Commissioners wrote a letter to the Minister of Labour, Joan Smallwood, complaining of the complexity of the task (review of province-wide bargaining) and other issues, indicating the deadline would not be met. There is still no indication when the review will be completed.
Speaking to the third-empty hall at the BC Fed Convention, Premier Dosanjh made a commitment to have open collective bargaining without wage controls in the K-12 system. He said There will be no more zero, zero and two. He was not clear whether that included local unions that have not yet negotiated the second stage of the government wage controls.
Year 2000 Industrial Fall Conference
BC Provincial Council of Carpenters President Len Embree opened the Fall Conference at the Holiday Inn Downtown in Vancouver October 20. Secretary-Treasurer Dave Flynn also spoke to the 18 delegates from Industrial and School Board Locals around the province.
The two-day conference featured workshops put on by Capilano College. Leo McGrady taught Labour Arbitration for the two days and Jean Greatbatch instructed the delegates on Leadership Skills on Friday, followed by Marty Smith conducting a course on Steward Advocacy on Saturday.
All the delegates said they appreciated the courses offered and thought their instructors did a fine job.
Some delegates suggested that next year the conference could be held in Prince George with instructors from the University of the North.
A wine and cheese was hosted by the Provincial Council and delegates asked me to pass on their thanks.
Jean Greatbatch teaching leadership skills at Fall Industrial Conference
On the Level December, 2000 p4
Watch for On the Level special edition in January
Pension Plan makes changes
Carpentry Workers Pension Plan of BC Administrator, Jane Richey, has issued two communications recently explaining the necessity for changes to the pension plan. Although your pension plan continues to be one of the most generous, with the present investment climate and changes to the work patterns in our industry, it can no longer continue to offer such liberal early retirement and self-payment options as were featured for many years.
Pension legislation adopted in British Columbia in 1993 lays down rigorous funding requirements for all pension plans. After Richey became the Plan administrator this year, it was discovered that the previous audit and actuarial advice received by the Plan was not adequate to meet the requirements of the legislation. With historically low interest rates and rising costs of pensions because of early retirements, coupled with low returns on real estate investments and weak employment conditions, the Plans asset growth has not been sufficient to offset the increase in pension costs.
Richey immediately took a number of steps to correct the situation and secure the long-term health of the Plan. These steps include:
Changes to the Early-Retirement and Self-Pay options.
Building a professional Advisory Team.
Developing and implementing a new Investment Policy.
Transferring the responsibility for investing fixed income assets, in August, 2000, from internal resources to external professionals who specialize in managing this type of investment.
Securing new Investment Managers to ensure maximum returns are realized.
Reducing investments in mortgages and real estate.
Appointing a new Accounting Manager and developing appropriate internal financial management systems.
Working closely with the BC Pension Standards Branch to ensure ongoing compliance with the Pension Benefits Standards Acts and Regulations.
Richey says that without any recovery and based on todays income figures, the pension amount may have to be cut 30 per cent across the board on July 1, 2003. If the Plan can improve the performance of its assets this change could be minimized or eliminated altogether.
The January edition of On the Level will be a Special Pension issue that will detail the changes in the plan and answer more of your pension questions. It will also contain the current Audited Financial Statements for the Pension and Benefit Plans
Questions can be asked directly of the Plan administration by calling (604) 438-2434; fax (604) 438-5348 or e-mail: email@example.com
Your patience is requested as it may take some time to respond to your questions because of the many calls being received. More of your questions will be dealt with in the January On the Level Special Edition.
Local 1598 Office Manager Dan Millar retires
On Saturday, September 9th, a retirement dinner was held to honour Brother Dan Millar, Office Manager of Local Union 1598 Victoria. This marked the culmination of 41 years of faithful service to the Brotherhood.
Members, long time trade unionists, family and friends attended the gala event held in the ballroom of the Princess Mary Restaurant. Master of Ceremonies and Local Union President Chris Cottier kicked off the affair, introducing and welcoming guests.
International Representative David Wright read out a letter of congratulations from Canadian General Executive Board Member Jim Smith and spoke passionately about the contributions made by Brother Dan Millar to the Brotherhood.
Other presentations, both humorous and serious, were given by Gail Nichol and Jill Scheirer of the Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan, Shan OHara, Vice President 1598, Marilynn Sullivan on behalf of the Sawyer family, John Schibli, President Retirees Club #53 and Heinz Korn, Past President Local 1598.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a special plaque awarded to Brother Dan by Brother Wayne Cox, Business Manager Local 1598. Brother Cox gave an account of the troubles he encountered apparently the plaque he had ordered was not ready to be picked up. Confident in his ability as a journeyman carpenter: he decided to reproduce the plaque. Proud and beaming with delight, he presented the replica plaque to Brother Dan. The room fell silent, then full scale laughter erupted as Brother Dan turned the plaque for all to see. A crude, skewed hunk of plywood with an old hammer mounted with the inscription in felt pen Thanks Dan scrawled across the top brought the crowd to its feet. Naturally, that presentation was a hoax and a fabulous plaque made of hardwoods by one of Local 1598s more skilled members was awarded.
Brother Dan, clearly moved, thanked everyone and left knowing he was appreciated and would be missed by all.
Dan Millar and his wife Ann with the real plaque
On the Level December, 2000 p5
Carpenter bursaries awarded to eight students this year
$450 Carpenter Union bursaries go to help finance post secondary education for Carpenter Union families
Eight post secondary students have qualified for Carpenters Union bursaries this year. Each of the winners will receive a $450 cheque to help defray the costs of their post secondary education. Applicants were required to write a short essay on some aspect of trade unionism in relation to politics, economics, social reform, history or personal experience.
Two students were eligible to win from each participating District Council area. A total of 15 applications were received this year. Seven from the Lower Mainland, four from Vancouver Island and one each from the Okanagan, Central BC, the Kootenays and the Northwest. Bursary cheques are distributed by the winners Local Union office.
Kalea Buckler, daughter of Cranbrook Local 2300 member Roy Buckler received her third Carpenters bursary in a row this year, Trevor Brady son of Local 1081 Kitimat member Steve Brady got his second bursary and Melissa Waddell, daughter of Local 1995 member Peter Waddell captured her second.
Any member, or son, daughter or grandchild of a member, who is attending most types of post secondary education may enter the annual bursary contest. Bursary application forms will be available at Local Union offices in May 2001, and will be printed in that issue of On the Level. The deadline for applications is the last working day of August before Labour Day and the winning selections are usually announced in October.
The winners of the Carpenters Union Bursary for the year 2000
Central District Council
Cy Giesbrecht Local 2397
In his essay, Cy contrasted and compared the wages and benefits enjoyed by his mother, who works under the Carpenters Agreement with Fort St. John School District and his father who has worked non-union in the oil patch all his life and has no pension.
Northwest District Council
Trevor Brady Local 1081
Trevors essay asks unions to get involved in organizing the service industry, where people have to work up to three Mcjobs just to make ends meet. He shows that service sector jobs are fast becoming the main source of income for individuals and families, rather than the entry level training they used to be.
Kootenay District Council
Kalea Buckler Local 2300
Strike of the 21st Century a brief analysis of the issues involved in a strike for a first agreement by two unions: Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, against the Verizon, the largest provider of local and wireless telephone service in the United States.
Okanagan District Council
Laura Ashley Gilmore Local 1346
Lauras essay details the advantages for a family of working union. She talks about the stress reduced standard of life enjoyed by people who work under the protection of a union agreement.
Lower Mainland District Council
Chelsea Horton Local 506
Chelseas intelligent analysis of Early Labour Radicalism in Canada is a well-written, interesting contrast/comparison that shows good research skills and independent thinking.
Melissa Waddell Local 1995
Another well-researched analysis from Melissa of the building of the road to Equal Pay for women and men. Melissa also won a bursary in 1999.
Vancouver Island District Council
Kathleen Wright Local 1989
Kathleen wrote a good analysis of the general societal benefits from union advocacy. Her essay Trade Unions points out that a major role of the union movement is to aid in the survival of Canadian jobs and industry in the fierce and competitive world market.
Emma Cottier Local 1598
Emma contrasted and compared the advantages enjoyed by a Canadian union member to those of a Third World worker.
A bursary winning essay for this year
Paving the Way to Equal Pay
by Melissa Waddell, Local 1995
The beginning of World War I in 1914 marked the start of a labour trend that had never been seen before: women were entering the workforce, filling the positions left empty by the men who had gone to fight in the war. The same trend was also seen during World War II; however, unlike after World War I, the women did not simply return home to their domestic jobs once the men returned from the war. The years following the end of World War II saw a surprising and steady influx of female workers into the labour force. It was not until years later, during the 1970s, that significant numbers of female workers were starting to join unions. It was during this time, and the decades to follow, that the role of the unions in supporting the concerns of all of their workers, regardless of gender, would spark what could be referred to as a revolution in equality.
Some people viewed the actions of the women entering the labour force and joining unions as threatening. Some people questioned such actions possibly wondering why these women would want to leave the comforts of their own home, and their traditional roles as housewives, to enter into the labour market. There is no easy answer. Regardless of reason, the fact remains that from 1951 onwards, the percentage of women in the labour force increased greatly (White, 1980).
While the acts of these women entering the workforce, and joining trade unions, are seemingly simple, these actions were not, unfortunately, without some negative repercussions. Problems quickly arose as to equality and fair treatment. In an effort to try to combat all kinds of workplace discrimination, the Canadian Human Rights Act became law on March 1, 1978. In the Act, Section 11 established that it is a discriminatory practice for an employer to differentiate in wages paid to male and female employees employed in the same establishment who are performing work of equal value (p.1 Ramkhalawansingh, 1979). Despite this affirmative action, though, Statistics Canada still reported that [i]n 1982, the average earnings of women who were employed full-time were just 64% of those full-time male employees (p.46, 1985). Why, a full three years after the Canadian Human Rights Act was legalized were non-unionized women not receiving equal pay for equal work? In 1990, Myatt and Murrell published the results of their study in the Canadian Journal of Economics and found that [m]ature women earn substantially less than mature men (p.312).
In Women and Unions, White contends that women are not unionized because of their attitudes that reflect passivity, weakness, inaction, and a lack of ambition (p.29, 1980). It is difficult to understand such reasoning. Munro, in Women, Work, and Trade Unions, asserts that work is constructed and reconstructed by reference of gender and race which results in specific gendered and racially defined interests (p.196, 1999). It is in situations that result in such statements about gender superiority, that the role of unions in ensuring equality and fair treatment becomes crucial.
At the same time that non-unionized women were perceived as passive, weak, and lacking in ambition, the perceptions of unionized women were changing. In 1980, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women concluded that male unionists have an ambivalent attitude towards women in the work world although fortunately, there is some evidence of growing realization that women who choose to work should have equality of opportunity in all respects (p.30, White 1980). At that time, B.C. was leading the way towards gender equality with 50% of union contracts containing non-sexist language, compared to New Brunswick which had only 31% of union contracts containing non-sexist language (White, 1980). So far, the trade unions were improving their role as an enforcer of equality and fair treatment among all of their workers.
Many studies have been conducted on the differences that are present between male and female earnings. None have been so thorough as the study conducted by Doiron and Riddell (1994), published in The Journal of Human Resources, examining the effects of unionization on this earnings gap. In the study, Doiron and Riddell conclude that the drop in the gender unionization gap prevented an increase of 7 percent in the overall wage differential between men and women and that the male-female earnings differences in the non-union sector make a substantially larger contribution to the gender earnings gap that do those in the union sector (p.504, 1994). In other words, male and female unionized workers receive more equal pay than do non-unionized male and female workers. Once again, the unions were improving their role as an enforcer of equality and fair treatment among all workers.
Many years have passed since the beginning of World War I when women began entering the labour force in significant numbers. The women, who dared to step beyond the threshold of their front porch to enter the labour force, leaving behind their full-time domestic jobs for more unconventional ones at the time, are to be commended. Not only did they start the revolution of equality for women and men, they kept it going.
Throughout this saga, the trades unions, and other unions, continued to grow, and change, and meet the needs and demands of all their workers, with increasingly less emphasis put on gender. The result of this was that the unions proved once again that they exist to serve the people and to ensure equality, fair treatment, and union security, and will continue to serve the people in this manner into the future.
Doiron, Denise J., W. Craig Riddell. The Impact of Unionization on Male-Female Earnings Differences in Canada. The Journal of Human Resources 29 (1994): 504-534.
Myatt, Anthony, David Murrell. The female/male unemployment rate differential. Canadian Journal of Economics 23.2 (1990): 312-322.
Ramkhalawansingh, Ceta, ed. (Un)equal Pay: Canadian and International Perspectives. Toronto: Resources for Feminist Research, 1979.
Statistics Canada. Women in Canada: A Statistical Report. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1985.
White, Julie. Women and Unions. Quebec: Canadian Government Publishing Centre, 1980.
Local 1995 President Randy Smith hands over bursary cheque to Melissa Waddell
On the Level December, 2000 p6
A future that works for everyone
BCFL Convention promises action on the streets
BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair challenged nearly a thousand delegates to help make, A future that works for everyone in his opening address to the 44th BC Federation of Labour Convention on Tuesday, November 28, 2000.
Marked by the notable absence of the usually vocal and active Canadian Autoworkers (CAW)who are under sanctions from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) for reputed raiding of the Service Employees International (SEIU), the Convention toiled for four days to set policy for the Federation and acclaimed Sinclair and Angela Schira as President and Secretary-Treasurer for another two-year term. Sinclair was first elected President in May, 1999 while Schira was first elected to her spot in 1990.
Sinclair said his priority as President for the coming two years will be to continue to reach out to long-time and new union members and promote an activist labour movement in British Columbia.
He said the 450,000 member strong Federation is part of a powerful movement that stands firmly in the way of employers and right-wing governments and their vision of a world that works for a fewand leaves the majority to face poverty, despair and unemployment.
The Convention endorsed new measures to reaffirm union solidarity by recognizing the effectiveness of the Street Heat approach to organizing and community action. Street Heat was used in organizing the WTO protests in Seattle last year.
Sinclair promised an increased level of action by the Federation
Premier faces CUPE walkout
BC Premier Ujjal Dosanjh faced 300 empty chairs when he addressed the Convention on Wednesday afternoon. The entire Canadian Union of Public Employee (CUPE) delegation quietly filed out in protest when Dosanjh climbed the podium. They were angry over being legislated back to work under Bill 7 during their brief School Support Staff strike earlier this spring.
CUPE president Barry ONeil, expressing his members anger with the NDP, said, Taking away a workers right to strike is the ultimate thing you can do. ONeil said his union felt betrayed by the government, but he hoped the relationship between the New Democrats and CUPE can be rebuilt.
Criticizing the NDP for paying too much attention to business critics, ONeil said, So what if the government pisses off the business communitybecause they are not going to vote for them in this election. They didnt vote for them in the last election and its our party and we need to take it back today.
Dosanjh made no apologies for Bill 7, saying, As premier you have to make tough decisions and that means some people will get upset. Theyre part of the labour family and sometimes you have angry members of the family. Theyll come back, he predicted.
Dosanjh did make several noteworthy promises for change if there is a legislative session before the next election is called.
The Premier promised to amend the Labour Code to support first-contract negotiations. He pledged to extend the current four-month freeze on wages and working conditions until a first collective agreement is signed. Better yet, he also promised to extend the time bar on decertification applications until the first collective agreement is negotiated. That would give newly organized workplaces a better chance of actually achieving a first contract in the face of employer foot dragging.
End to wage controls
Dosanjh also promised free collective bargaining in the public sector.
There will be no wage guidelines. I have no doubt there will be hard bargaining at all tables, but it will be free bargaining, he said, promising an end to zero, zero and two (percent).
Child Care program promised for New Year
The Premier also pledged to start a new Child Care program in January 2001, that will offer working families affordable before and after school child care.
Further, Dosanjh promised to protect our crown corporations. I will not sell BC Hydro, I will not sell ICBC or BC Rail, and I will not privatize jails or liquor stores, he said.
Resolutions for Carpenters
The Convention discussed resolutions calling for improvements in the Homeowners Protection Act to implement a system of licensing for all contractors in the province, for increased numbers of designated construction trades under ITAC, for increased trades training opportunities, for better OH&S training under the WCB as well as improvements to WCB appeal procedures. Carpenters will welcome the promised changes to the Labour Code that should make it easier to achieve a first agreement.
On the final day, a resolution that deplored the absence of the Canadian Autoworkers from the convention because of CLC sanctions over raiding allegations by the SEIU, called for a resumption of negotiations to reach a settlement in order that we can invite the CAW to resume its participation in the Federation.
The CLC issued sanctions against CAW after the SEIU charged the Autoworkers with raiding when eight Ontario SEIU locals with 30,000 health care members, voted 96 per cent to leave their American parent and join the Canadian union. While under sanctions, the CAW is not allowed to participate in the CLC or any of its affiliated bodies like the Federation.
A proposed agreement that would have resolved the dispute was turned down unanimously by the leadership of the breakaway locals two weeks previously, as they would not have been allowed to vote on representation for at least two years.
CAWs Buzz Hargrove explained, in a letter, that after all the turmoil, the rebel leadership felt that if a federal election only takes weeks to hold, they should be able to vote sooner than the 27 months proposed by the SEIU.
Premier Dosanjh promises, No more zero, zero and two, in Public Sector bargaining
Superior Poultry strikers get standing ovation at BC Fed Convention after four-months on the picketline
Chicken boycott announced
Pointing to the success of the BCAA boycott that was instrumental in ending that 14-month strike, BCFL President Jim Sinclair pledged the full weight of the Federation in support of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) on the picketline at Superior Poultry. He announced a hot edict on Superior Poultry, Hallmark and United Poultry.
The labour movement will not handle Superior chicken as of todayit is hot, he declared.
Local 1518 UFCW has been on strike at Superior Poultry for four months. The workers, mostly new Canadians, were subjected to terrible working conditions, forced overtime, low wages and no seniority rights.
They are fighting for basic fairness and dignity and the employer responded by hiring goons, intimidating workers and refusing to bargain, Sinclair said.
Federation President Jim Sinclair calls for action
On the Level December, 2000 p7
What do the constitutional changes mean?
COUNCILCOMMENT by Dave Flynn
Autonomy, limitations, just cause, recall, referenda, are the most important additions
By now most members will have received the special edition of On The Level containing the proposed amended Provincial Council Constitution that will be the subject of a referendum vote in February, 2001. Some members, overwhelmed by fourteen pages of constitutional language, have already called wondering what it all means, and what exactly are the amendments to the current constitution.
Before we all go cross eyed, reading and rereading section after section, attempting to decipher whether its good or bad, let me try to summarize the significant changes in the proposed amendments and why they are being put forward.
To begin with, delegates to the 57th Provincial Council Convention directed the Provincial Council to strike a committee to review the Council Constitution and submit proposed amendments to be taken to a membership referendum. The delegates further instructed the Council, through resolutions, to delete all references to the International in the Provincial Council Constitution, and to strengthen it by incorporating all the provisions necessary to make it an independent document, not relying on the International Constitution in any way.
The committee accomplished this considerable challenge by taking two existing documents, the BC Provincial Council Constitution and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (International) Constitution, and blending them into a single document. There is very little new language in the proposed amendments. Most of the provisions already exist and are the current laws that the Carpenters Union operates under. There are, however; a few significant changes that you should take note of.
The committee felt strongly that the current structure puts far too much power and authority in the hands of a single person. The new constitution proposes that where authority now rests with an individual, those powers be transferred to the elected body. For example, in Section 8, covering the duties of the Provincial Council President, decisions would require the approval of the Provincial Council Executive Board. The intention is to protect the membership from any rash or arbitrary decisions.
In the same vein, the proposed amendments include language that would require just cause before any subordinate body could be place under supervision. Just cause sets a legal standard that would protect Local Unions or District Councils from a parent body attempting to impose supervision for insufficient reason. This basic protection does not currently exist in the International Constitution.
The committee also introduced provisions to enshrine members democratic rights and to increase the accountability of elected officers.
A new section on Right to Recall would provide that any elected officer could be removed from office following a two-step process. The first step requires a petition signed by at least 25 per cent of the membership, followed by a two thirds vote at a special called meeting.
To address a problem where some Locals have in the past refused to participate in referendum votes, thereby disenfranchising their membership, language has been introduced that would allow the Provincial Council to conduct referenda within a Locals area if that Local refused to participate.
The Constitution Review Committee took the task assigned them very seriously, and should be congratulated for a job well done. They worked very hard to bring forward a document they felt would increase the members protection and democratic rights.
Should this new Constitution become the governing rules and bylaws for the Provincial Council of Carpenters, it will also provide the members of affiliated Locals with the Canadian autonomy they have long sought.
I would encourage all members to review the proposed Constitution, come out to the special called meetings in December and January to discuss the amendments, and most importantly, participate in the mail ballot referendum to be conducted in February. Rememberignore your rights and they will go away.
Spotlight on organizing
by Josh Coles, provincial organizer
International still beating NO VOTE drum
Arriving soon in your mailbox is a new International magazine called the Canadian Organizer that is supposed to convince us that McCarrons No Vote restructuring is good for members because he says its good for organizing.
The International keeps beating this drum because its all theyve got. How else can they justify firing all current duly-elected local union executives and BAs, appointing new officers, and transferring bargaining rights without votes as something members actually want?
General President Doug McCarron knows hes in an uphill battle because Canadians are fiercely protective of voting rights. He knows that even the BC Painters Union, and the BC Labourers had votes before they restructured recently. He knows that even the employer-dominated Canadian Alliance Party supports direct democracy through referendums!
Over the past five years McCarrons plans have forced BC members to defend their right to vote and as a result real restructuring initiatives have been sidelined.
Since 1994, the Provincial Council has been making efforts to restructure democratically, so that we can organize better. But McCarron and his loud but shrinking group of supporters have attempted to sideline our modernization plans. As well as organizing non-union workers, we have been forced to defend basic rights that, although enshrined in Canadas Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are missing from McCarrons 33 bylaws.
But lets ignore the noise for a moment and get to the heart of the issue: how do we improve organizing?
McCarrons logic is that if the UBC is run more like a business, and less like a union, then it will attract more members (or is that contractors) and that will earn it more control over construction markets and therefore more work.
Core to McCarrons belief is that non-union workers join unions not for human issues like dignity, respect, and workplace control, but only for financial issues like jobs and money. A unions purpose, McCarron preaches, is to be a labour broker for its members. A bigger, better Labor Ready. How easy.
But we know its not that easy because we know how the UBCJA was originally built. In 1881, Peter McGuire, the UBCJAs founding President, fought on the streets for the 8-hour work day (won by a General Strike), recognition of union representation on the job, internal union democracy and social change. By encouraging more membership participation, not less, McGuire built a union that could not be ignored.
McGuire didnt propose by-law changes that reduce membership participation. Instead he fought for the union vote to empower carpenters to take action over their lives.
Unlike McCarron, McGuire understood that you didnt get non-union workers to vote UNION YES with an organization that says NO VOTES on internal union affairs.
For McGuire, union democracy lived on the job and in the union hall.
Skills, jobs and training were, of course, important but they were second to the greater goal of the union: complete carpenter rank n file control over the construction industry and, therefore, more control over their lives.
Some may argue that things are different today than in 1881. Others may say that non-union workers are not interested in the vote. While its true that we cant look to the past for all our answers, its clear McCarronism is not the solution.
In recent months, there has been a sharp increase in the horror stories about union life in McCarronized Alberta.
One area we have been getting many collect-calls from is the town of Joffre, Alberta. Here hundreds of UBC members have been working on huge scaffolding and construction projects. But word is the job is not going smoothly and last year some strong members held a wild-cat strike against union contractor Fluor Daniel and others, to protest working conditions.
The work stoppage appeared successful when the rattled employer filed a lawsuit against the Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters claiming damages.
There was outrage, however; when members learned that, in an out-of-court settlement between the company and the Alberta Council, the crews were forced to work one full day for free to pay for lost time. What fuelled the outrage even more than the work for free day was the lack of consultations or votes over the proposal. According to one worker, the crews felt the union didnt back them up once they made the difficult decision to stand together and wildcat.
Its true that Albertas oil boom means big jobs and lots of work. But success for the union will be measured by how loyal the members are to the union during the coming bust. If Joffre is any indication, Alberta workers may not be too excited about selling the union on non-union jobs.
Its clear that denying membership participation over their lives will do nothing but hurt organizing. We used to have a poster that said Working union is great, but what about your next job? In Alberta, members say working union is not so great and they have no reason to organize their next non-union job.
Imposed bylaw changes and weak leadership will do little to build a better, organizing-based union. Only members confident that their union is behind them will be the ones to support us on their next non-union job.
For ideas on how to build a better union we can look to Peter McGuires formula. Fight for a better quality of life for members and they will help you organize wherever they are. Thats exactly what we are doing at the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters. We are fighting for members right to vote and to have a say over their future because we know that the McCarron way just doesnt work.
On the Level December, 2000 p8
PRESIDENTS CORNER by Len Embree
Referenda will finally decide our direction
Union looks for clear, unequivocal message
After countless years of discussion and debate at all levels of our union in BC, we have finally arrived at the point where our membership will make an undoubtedly momentous decision.
Before our annual convention convenes in April, the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters will have been given a clear and unequivocal message on how to proceed into the new Millenium. Do we progress with a vibrant, democratic, membership-directed union, or are we destined to remain in some anachronistic structure that serves the wants and needs of an elitist leadership, governed from a foreign country? Will we have a union that has elected leadership accountable to the membership, subject to recall, or will we be subjected to a structure of appointments and rules that are designed to serve the needs of those in power?
It has been a somewhat arduous struggle to arrive at this point. Considerable mischief has been conducted by the International and its agents to derail the members right to decide their future. The amount and extent should be clearly understood by our membership.
We have people in positions of leadership who, rather than stand in front of their fellow members and say they dont support their right to vote, sneak around the issue with backdoor lawsuits financedby the waywith the members own money.
Questions are asked like Whats the plan? trying to establish some grounds for trusteeship by their American masters. Try what they might, the issue to be decided by the membership in BC remains consistentthe right to decide by ballot how their union is to be governed.
The most recent glaring example of mischief is the letter circulated to all members casting myself in the role of, at the very least, the Anti-Christ. Considering that its signed anonymously, it probably isnt deserving of much attention. The fact that the membership list is available only to On the Level and the International allows members to figure out pretty quickly where this literature comes from. Contrary to Washingtons opinion, our members are not stupid. This will not be the last attempt to create mischief, but it is apparent that this is the Internationals preferable strategy rather than just allowing our members their democratic rights.
Never mind all the smoke and mirrors. Never mind all the vague, staged questions. One can only conclude that the International and its agents know full well that the membership in BC wants an autonomous union. One can only conclude, as well, that they are assuming membership support for the referendum. We need to make every effort not to disappoint their expectations.
Because some Local Unions chose not to have their membership participate in the last Provincial Council referendum, your Executive Board has decided on a mail-out ballot for this vote. This procedure, followed in 1992 on the same issue, proved quite efficient. Your Executive Board wants to ensure that all members of our union are afforded the opportunity to voice their opinions on this issue.
The Executive Board is recommending a vote in favour. I strongly echo that position.
I look forward to attending special-called meetings around the province and to meeting many of you at these events, where the issues will be outlined and discussed. Whether or not you make it to the meeting in your area, I encourage you to take the time to mark your ballot and return it to the Provincial Council. By doing so, you will be giving your Provincial Council Executive Board clear direction on how your union is to proceed into the future.
In closing, I would like toon behalf of myself and the Provincial Councilwish everyone the very best over the holiday season. As well, a special thanks to all those very supportive family members, friends and co-workers who help us maintain some degree of sanity, humour and perspective in this struggle.
Len Embree, President
BC Provincial Council of Carpenters
BC carpenter wins National title
Jessie Magee-Chalmers of Nanaimo, has gone on from winning the BC Provincial Carpentry Apprentice contest to take National honours at the 16th Annual Canadian Carpentry and Drywall Apprenticeship Contest in Montreal. Second place went to Joel Lebreux from Montreal and third place to Travis Paul of Winnipeg.
The apprentices constructed gazebos (on the left) as their practical project which were later donated to a charity.
James Andre, of Vancouver Local 1995, represented the Drywall trade but didnt manage to place in the top three this time. Previously, he had won the BC Provincial title in Victoria (pictured at left).
Marc Miville from Gloucester, ON, took first, while Stephane Page of St. Hubert PQ was second. Third went to Trevor Gavel of Halifax NS.
Each contestant contructed an 8X8 ft. module of steel stud and drywall. They all showed themselves to be excellent tradespeople who represented their trade and their province very well.
Prizes of cordless drills were donated by De Walt Industries.
Carpenter apprentice Jessie Magee-Chalmers
Lather apprentice James Andre in Victoria