On the Level June, 2000 page 1
Just at press time, General President Doug McCarron informed the Provincial Council that he intends to take possession of all the books, records and minutes of the Council for examination by KPMG Chartered Accountants starting on June 19. This is to include all funds and companies owned by or related to the union, including On the Level Publishers and GR&S Holdings, the Councils investment arm.
Provincial Council Len Embree called the move, Another colossal waste of our time and the members money, obviously intended to discourage our constitutional review.
ICI Agreement accepted
Carpenters in British Columbia have narrowly ratified the three-year agreement in Industrial-Commercial-Institutional construction (ICI Standard Agreement) recently negotiated with CLR. Voting 53 per cent in favour provincially, construction carpenters have accepted what may be an historic Standard Agreement that marks the first time that Millwrights have had a separate stand alone contract. The Millwrights accepted their new agreement by 57 per cent province-wide in separate voting.
The close ICI vote is seen as a signal of membership wariness of taking much more in the way of cuts. Although most carpenters are aware of the necessity to be competitive, employers should note the reluctance of workers to bear the whole burden of marketplace demands. Both sides recognize the benefits of stability in the industry provided by a signed agreement.
The ICI agreement provides for a roll over of most current conditions with provision for a 75 cent total wage increase by the third year in the Industrial sector.
Perhaps the most controversial provisions of the ICI agreement are the inclusion of a memorandum providing for a mandatory minimum enabling framework in each region and the acceptance of area agreements for piecework in the Drywall sector.
Council president Len Embree said the negotiations were some of the most difficult he has ever been involved in. He said, We were in survival mode referring to the political climate he likened to Alberta in the late 1980s just prior to the de-unionization there.
As reported in the last issue of On the Level, the sunset provisions of the previous contract, covering hours and overtime and living-out allowance have been made hard changes in the new agreement.
Main table bargaining continues around Marshalling Points, Initial and Terminal Travel and TurnaroundPeriodic Leave.
The Millwrights, Machine Erectors & Maintenance Union Local 2736 stand alone agreement is also a three-year deal with monetary increases of 50 cents per hour in each of the first two years and 25 cents in the third. There has been some adjustment of Local ResidentMileage & Free Zone and Greater Vancouver Metro Area Extension, Shift work, Tool List, Hiring Clause and Short Term Travel.
Main Table talks will cover: Hours of Work, Initial & Terminal Travel, Shifts, Turnarounds, Overtime, Living Out Allowance and Statutory Holidays.
Delegates urge Get on with the job
Carpenters convention calls for autonomy
The 57th Convention of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters, held April 13-15 in Vancouver, debated and overwhelmingly passed what may be some of the most auspicious resolutions yet to appear before the Carpenters Union in British Columbia.
The delegates clearly directed the Provincial Council to get on with the job of restructuring our organization into a democratic model the membership can stand behind despite ongoing interference from the International.
The 96 registered delegates heard an impassioned plea from Mark Derton, the president of the Vancouver, New Westminster and Fraser Valley District Council of Carpenters in his remarks opening the convention, that it is time for everyone to put all differences aside and re-adopt those principles our union was founded on: Brotherhood/Sisterhood; charity; being models in our communities; being united to fight the true enemy and protective of the rights of workers and those less fortunate. Protect these people and your political butt will survive, he said. Derton concluded that a union should be like a family, providing unconditional support, encouragement, love, guidance, safe boundaries and respect.
After recapping the events of the past year, Council president Len Embree told the delegates that the International is not going to be allowed to interfere in the affairs of our union in British Columbia. He advised the International, Youre not going to be allowed to deprive our members of the right to vote on collective agreements or elect those people that they wish to represent them. If you go down this road, not only are you not going to win the fight, you stand a real risk of losing what representation youve got left in this province.
The delegates set the tone early, passing a resolution barring any International representatives from attending the convention. They then proceeded to adopt a series of measures calling for Canadian autonomy and the rewriting of the Provincial Constitution to ensure the democratic rights of the membership are protected.
The convention directed the Provincial Council to start a process of rewriting and revamping the provincial constitution to reflect the often stated desire of the membership for Canadian autonomy. They also demanded that all references to the UBCJA be removed from the constitution and, as a reaction to some Local Unions not conducting a ballot during the last referendum, that all members be guaranteed the right to vote in any future Provincial Council referendum.
The Organizing report drew a large part of the heated discussion at the convention, with delegates demanding Local Unions be more accountable for their spending from the Provincial Organizing Program. A recommendation was finally adopted that the Provincial Organizing Program Policy & Procedures Guidelines be amended to ensure province-wide co-operation and collaboration by all Local Unions, including access for provincial organizers to all areas of the province. All applications for funding for this year will be reviewed to ensure the funds are used for the intended purpose. Convention Organizing Committee chair Randy Smith explained, We must fight together, not against each other.
An organizing resolution passed that called for reprimands to members who refuse to sign cards during organizing campaigns and one asked the Organizing Committee to look at ways to expand our presence in the growing low-income housing industry.
Delegates called on the CATC and the Provincial Council to lobby for changes to the carpentry curriculum that would reflect the inter-provincial test bank questions as the failure rate has become too high of late. They also called for renewed action to press the provincial government to make carpentry a compulsory trade certification.
The convention concurred in principle with several suggested improvements to the Benefit Plan but referred them to the Trustees for further investigation and possible action. There were no Pension Plan resolutions approved at this convention.
Safety and Health
Convention resolutions calling for reimbursement for the cost of moulded earplugs by the WCB and the provision of safer, well-fitted, high visibility clothing by contractors were also adopted.
The convention also adopted resolutions supporting the Council of Canadians work for medicare and against free trade; supporting a national shipbuilding policy to foster and encourage new shipbuilding; opposing employer driven Labour Code and Employment Standards changes to overtime rates; and urging inclusion of Just Cause sections in the Labour Code to prevent any International or National Union from imposing a trusteeship or interfering with a provincial or local union without Just Cause.
The convention also approved establishing a committee to formulate a clear and extensive harassment policy for the next convention.
Canadian Labour Congress
A resolution calling for the enforcement of the CLC Code of Ethical Practices that requires democratic elections of union officers as well as one that asks for the exclusion of UBCJA representative James Smith from the CLC Executive as he was not elected to the post by Canadians were adopted.
Len Embree and Mae Burrows lead off discussion at first mould forum at Maritime Labour Centre
First forum held on mould health effects
Representatives of Labour, environmental and First Nations organizations, scientists and homeowners got together June 1, 2000 to discuss the problems and implications of mouldy buildings on the health of residents and workers.
The Citizens Forum on Mould and its Effects on Health, Workers and the Environment: Our Right to Know and to Protect a symposium of nearly 50 community activists who spent the day studying the health problems of the toxic moulds often found in leaky buildings, was sponsored by the Vancouver & District Labour Council Environmental Committee, the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters, the Labour Environmental Alliance, and the Community Animation Program through Environment & Health Canada.
Expressing his concern about the health hazards faced by workers exposed to pathogenic moulds, in his opening remarks Council president Len Embree said the leaky condo issue and its resultant mould problems may be just the tip of the iceberg.
We dont think the problem is restricted to the condo marketits pretty obvious that other public buildings may be as bad or worse than the condo area.
Embree said that the Carpenters Union is planning a program of workshops for presentation to Carpenters Union members around the province about the hazards of working with the dangerous moulds that are found in leaky buildings.
Jim Bagley, a scientist with PHH Environmental, outlined the different types and effects of fungal or mould contamination on individuals exposed in leaky buildings. He said that health effects can range from minor discomfort to death, depending on the type and concentration of mould present. He said Dont get hung up on the species (of mould), probably none of it is any good for you. He recommended fixing the water problem that allows mould to grow rather than just trying to kill the mould with bactericide.
At the end of the day, a steering committee was set up to develop a common register of information on moulds for researchers and concerned citizens to access. They will also work to develop media campaigns on Our Right to Know about the dangers and solutions to mould exposure as well as further information forums focused on workers and leaky building residents.
On the Level June, 2000 page 2
Post-secondary bursaries set at $450 this year
BC Carpenters offer 12 student bursaries for members
The BC Provincial Council Education Committee is pleased to continue offering some small financial assistance to members, or their immediate family, who are taking post secondary education or training. The provincial bursary program, established in 1992, will make available two $450 bursaries for each District Council area this year.
Any member, or the immediate family of a member, of any Local of the BC Carpenters Union is eligible to apply for a bursary. This includes spouses, children and grandchildren of members. Bursaries are not limited to academic institutions, but are also available for commercial, technical, vocational or art school programs.
A selection committee of impartial community leaders decides the winners based on a 500 to 1000 word essay on some aspect of trade unionism in history, politics, economics or social reform. Academic student essays will be judged on proper essay style so should include references and bibliographies. These will not be calculated in the final word count. Non-academic essays can be more personal and anecdotal but should also have some attribution or reference if articles or books are quoted or ideas or facts are borrowed from someone else.
The deadline for applications is August 31, 2000 and all applications must be forwarded to the Provincial Council Education Committee by that date. Applicants are welcome to apply for successive bursaries even if they won previously.
Application forms are available at Local Union offices or in the printed version of On the Level, June, 2000
BC Projectionists Settle
The 68-week lockout of the BC Projectionists Union, IATSE Local 348, by Famous Players/Cineplex Odeon has ended. The union members voted 38-14 to accept a 60 per cent wage cut tempered by a $1 million severance deal.
The package allows members to take a severance and quit, take a severance and continue with their employment at significantly reduced wages with no accumulated seniority, or to continue working with no severance and at the lower pay rate but with their seniority intact.
It has been reported that only two of the 60 IATSE members will be returning to work with the companies.
Both Cineplex Odeon and Famous Players (owned by Sony-Viacom) are hugely profitable companies that have no apparent need for such overwhelming concessions from their employees.
This strike was exacerbated by the International Unions failed attempt to put the Local under trusteeship and sign a back-door agreement that would have given even less to the Local members. The BC Federation of Labour asks its members to lift the boycott of Sony-Viacom and Famous Players/Cineplex Odeon that was called in December.
BCAA Employees back at work after one year on picket lines
After one year on strike, OPEIU Local 378 members have put away their picket signs and returned to work for the BC Automobile Association. The strike ended after union members voted to apply to the Labour Relations Board for an imposed first contract.
While a Section 55 application requires BCAA employees to return to work without a contract, it will result in a contract in the end. BCAA can no longer avoid a collective agreement.
Announcing the end of the boycott, Local 378 president Jerri New said, Thank you, the battle is not over yet, but the support of tens of thousands of supporters all over BC has allowed us to make some great progress...it shows what Solidarity can accomplish. When the BC Fed calls a boycott it works, said New. The 180 Service Centre workers had been on strike since February, 1999.
Labour urges National Post Boycott
The Canadian labour movement has authorized a national boycott campaign against Conrad Blacks National Post to pressure Black to settle the strikes at the Calgary Herald and the Castelgar Sun.
The strike at the Herald, which started last November, is over a first contract in which the issues are seniority, the quality of local journalism and the right of journalists to be free of harassment and discrimination.
Since Black took over, local coverage in Calgary has been cut by 45 per cent and stories have been changed for political reasons.
Black locked out the press operators in May and has been running with strike breakers from some of his other operations across the country. Five people were arrested and several roughed up when press operators refused to leave after being locked out.
The Canadian Labour Congress as well as the Alberta and BC Federations of Labour urge all unionists to boycott the National Post until Black settles. Public pressure has already encouraged Chapters-on-line and Ford to reconsider future advertising.
On the Level June, 2000 page 3
UBCJA charges IWA over industrial certifications
CAW and IWA both face raiding charges in Ontario
The Canadian Labour Congress is trying to sort out how to proceed against the Canadian Auto Workers now that the largest Canadian union has been found guilty of raiding in its recent negotiations to take in 30,000 Ontario members of the Service Employees International Union.
As reported in the last issue of On the Level, eight Locals of the SEIU, dissatisfied with the lack of meaningful progress in their autonomy talks with their International, voted 96 per cent to leave the SEIU and merge with CAW.
The SEIU filed raiding charges with the CLC and umpire Vic Pathe had no choice but to find the autoworkers guilty under the constitiution. Possible sanctions against the CAW could include being bounced out of the central labour body.
CAW president Buzz Hargrove says that although the autoworkers still want to be part of the labour movement in Canada, it wont be at any price. In a speech to the CAW National Council, Hargrove said, We want to part of a labour movement that respects the members of that movement and respects their rights.
He claimed, If the price of remaining in the Canadian Labour Congress is that we have to ignore the democratic wishes of organized working people in this country, then I believe we have to accept that were going to be outside the Canadian Labour Congress.
As the CAW has already been found guilty of raiding, that decision cant be appealed. Unless the auto workers abandon their claim to the 30,000 former SEIU memberssomething CAW officials say is not going to happenthe expulsion will automatically take effect in October.
Hargrove also told the Council that he was approached by the Bricklayers last year when they were setting up the Brick and Allied Craft Union of Canada after their seven-year fight to leave their international union.
I recommended that we give them our support, that we make it unequivocal, that we will give them the financial support and the solidarity in their struggle thats been lacking and missing for seven years, up to and including merger if we cant find another solution.
He continued, I want to make it absolutely clear to everyone that this group of people are no longer sitting on their own, and that they have the umbrella of the Canadian Auto Workers union to sit under and if anybody attacks them, its like attacking our union.
Carpenters charge IWA
CAW is not the only union to face charges at the CLC. The UBCJA has brought raiding charges against IWA Canada because several Industrial Carpenter certifications in Ontario, reportedly fed up with inadequate servicing from Internationally appointed business agents, voted to leave the UBCJA and join the woodworkers. Some 700 members at millwork company Canac Kitchens in Toronto voted 419 to 112 to go to the IWA, mostly as a result of admitted failure to represent by the Carpenters.
For the 150 members at Commonwealth Veneer in Pembroke, the issue is more about Local autonomy. The Local was put under supervision and the Business Agent fired when they refused to pay International per capita for two years.
According to former BA Ken Fenwick, The Local had depleted its strike fund with five strikes in two years and needed to keep the money in the Local. He claimed that the Local was thenforced into a provincial council and the benefit fund seized. The members hugely resent being told what to do and want out, said Fenwick.
Commonwealth voted 94 per cent to switch to IWA.
The raiding hearings, in front of CLC appointed umpire Wilf List, have been adjourned to July 36, with a decision expected 21 days later.
Union carpenter fired in safety dispute with Kootenay Ferry builder
Dave Livingston of Local 2300 Castlegar had a lump in his throat and a tear in his eye when he described the incredible support he received from his crew after he was fired from the Kootenay Ferry Builders project in Nelson early in April.
Livingston, better known as Dot.Com Dave the website host for www.carpentersunionbc.com, was fired after raising some safety issues with management. Most recently, Livingston had reported a toxic response to some of the paint being used on the Osprey 2000, a new 80-car ferry for Kootenay Lake. Livingston had a strong, debilitating reaction to the paint and asked the first aid attendant for product sheets to help identify the problem. He was later fired by Maglio Industries, the local company partnered with Vancouver Shipyards to build the ferry.
The next morning, after most of the 145-person crew refused to go to work, Livingston was invited by some to talk to them about the problem. He found the gate locked when he tried to get on the site. When the crew heard of that, at least 100 of them walked over to the gate and broke the lock so Livingston could come in and explain the situation to them. Thats when the police were called and everyone sent home for the day.
Livingston is presently appealing his dismissal but says he is receiving little support from WCB officials who have given the site a clean bill of health.
Jubilee Hospital Diagnostic Centre (Farmer Construction) foreground with Vancouver Island Cancer Clinic (Campbell Contruction) in background
$100 million of union construction at Jubilee Hospital in Victoria
Two fair wage projects currently underway in Victoria will total over $100 million of union work. Campbell Construction is construction manager and formwork and finishing contractor on the $46.7 million V.I. Cancer Clinic and Farmer Construction has the $68.5 million diagnostic treatment centre for Jubilee Hospital.
Campbell claims to be six months ahead of schedule and under budget and Farmer is due to complete on time by Christmas 2001.
Dryco Systems has the wall & ceiling contracts for both projects.
The Victoria Local also has the maintenance carpenters certification at the Jubilee Hospital and expects to do the new Cancer Clinic as well. Maintenance should be low as both these projects are being built by qualified union carpenters.
Respected by all, George Meldrum served Millwright Local 2736 as executive board member for 9 years, the past two as president, before his untimely death from cancer, June 2, 2000.
George, a long-time unionist, was a Local member since 1971 when he came to the Vancouver area from the pulp mill in Ocean Falls. He had worked there since the early 1960s and was a delegate from the Pulp Sulphite International Union to the BC Federation of Labour.
George gained a measure of fame at the BC Fed as the proponent of the Plimsoll line that was eventually required on beer glasses in British Columbia after the introduction of the twenty-cent glass, according to Millwright business agent Brian Zdrilic.
His granddaughter, Vanessa Panton, penned this ode to George, celebrating his life as:
A True Gentleman
A man of great pride, humor and wit, was the grandfather that I knew,
From the time that I was very young his gentle eyes watched over me as I grew.
His friendly smile, his boisterous laugh, and his ready helping hand,
Always saying that if I ever needed support he would be there to be that man.
At age sixteen he was crowned the King of Hearts and he still wore it well as he got old,
For time could never take that title, as he always did seem to have a heart of gold.
Respected by All is how we describe George Meldrum and I indeed feel that is true,
For he accomplished and stood for many things, as conviction was all that he knew.
A man of his word and a man of his heart, by my grandfather I was never let down,
There was never a time when I wasnt smiling, as he always seemed to rob me of my frown.
Even at this time of great mourning, all of my memories are filled with laughter,
For the chance to even know a man whose grin shall exceed his grave, is what I will always cherish after.
Despite the pain that thwarts us now, we are still left with so many wonderful things to remember,
For it was a blessing we even had a chance to know this man, and the memories we possess and the great life he led, will be with us forever.
Like an angel in our lives he filled them all with love,
Given to us then taken away by the heavens up above.
Forever we will miss him but, know always this,
That at least we had the opportunity to know him at all, and that is truly a gift.
On the Level June, 2000 page 4-5
57th Convention of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters
Carpentry Workers Plan administrator reports to convention
The new administrator of the Carpentry Workers Benefit and Pension Plans, Jane Richey, working closely with the Plan Trustees, is putting together a new team of advisors to ensure that all aspects of Plan administration are fully compliant with the various legislative and regulatory policies now in place and that the return on investments is sufficient to support Plan benefits.
Several of these key advisors have been selected. Working with our legal counsel, Don Cooper of Davis & Company, the Trustees agreed to replace our existing auditors and accountants and on January 1, 2000, appointed the firm of BDO Dunwoody.
Once confirmed, a comprehensive audit of all aspects of the plans was started by the new auditors. This has taken somewhat longer than anticipated so the audited financial statements will not be completed until later this summer. After the Trustees examine the statements and make their recommendations, On The Level will publish a report on them in the very next issue.
As the three-year actuarial report for the Pension Plan is due this summer, it was decided to retain a new actuary with extensive experience with multi-employer plans and a local office to develop proactive and conservative actuarial advice. Allan Brown of Hewitt is highly regarded both locally and nationally and the administrator is looking forward to working closely with him.
Following a special Trustees meeting this summer, an information package containing the actuarial report and the audited financial statements will be sent to convention delegates and published in On The Level.
Council appoints Constitution Review Committee
The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters has set up a 10-person Constitutional Review Committee that will investigate needed changes to the Provincial Council constitution.
In accordance with resolution M-21 adopted at the 57th Convention of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters in April, Council President Len Embree appointed the committee to work to strengthen the Provincial Council constitution as a stand-alone document. This committee will meet and take submissions over the summer so as to be able to present recommendations for a membership referendum in the fall.
Holding its first meeting on May 25, the committee adopted a mandate and timelines for research and discussion. Pledging to work towards a new, stand-alone, membership-driven constitution that protects the democratic rights of the members and reflects autonomy and independence, the Committee members are asking for ideas and direction from the membership.
The entire structure and governance of the Council must be examined if we are to repatriate our own constitution, said committee chair Pat Haggarty. The issues we are looking at so far include: recall, accountability, and preservation of the memberships right to vote. We encourage suggestions from the membership as it is their constitution and their union.
The Committee is prepared to look at submissions from Local Unions, District Councils and interested members over the summer with a report to the membership in September and a vote sometime later in the fall. The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2000.
All submissions of ideas and directions for constitutional change should be sent to the Constitution Review Committee, 305 - 2806 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, V5R 5T5 or faxed to 604 437-1110. What ideas do you think should be included in a new constitution for British Columbia carpenters? Please remember to include your name and Local Union number. Copies of the UBCJA and the BC Provincial Council constitutions are available through your Local Union or District Council office or at the Provincial Council.
Ten members appointed to the
Constitution Review Committee
Bob Eaton Local 506 (604) 986-3466
Pat Haggarty (Chair) Local 1928 (604) 525-1091
Tony Heisterkamp Local 1346 (250) 542-8814
Paul R Nedelec Local 2300 (250) 365-2813
Brent Rogers Local 1237 (250) 782-4124
Jim Senior Local 1989 (250) 287-2422
David Sewell Local 2106 (250) 564-2268
Randy Smith Local 1995 (604) 437-0491
John Starkey Local 1812 (250) 748-1812
Brian Zdrilic Local 2736 (604) 585-2736
Carpenters overwhelmingly pass autonomy resolutions
The following resolutions on Canadian autonomy were overwhelmingly adopted by the 57th Convention of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters in April. The Constitution Review Committee is using these resolutions as a guide to their deliberations on proposed changes to the structure and governance of the BC Carpenters Union. The resolutions demand protection for the members democratic rights and an action plan to achieve autonomy for British Columbia carpenters.
M-21 UNION RESTRUCTURING
WHEREAS: The International body of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America has removed most of the democratic rights and restructured the union in most of North America; and
WHEREAS: The Internationals restructuring plans in British Columbia attack the vested rights of the members; and
WHEREAS: Many provisions in the International Constitution are in contravention of BC labour laws; and
WHEREAS: The International Constitution is being used by the International as a weapon for restructuring, which means the Constitution is not compatible with serving the needs of BC members of the Carpenters Union; and
WHEREAS: Previous referendums in British Columbia have demonstrated a desire of the members to determine their own destiny through an independent democratic process:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That immediately following the Convention, pursuant to Section 6C of the Provincial Council Constitution and Bylaws, a standing committee be assembled to take submissions and confer with members and Local Unions affiliated to the Provincial Council to strengthen the Provincial Council Constitution by submitting a report to the Executive Board of proposed amendments that can be voted on in a membership referendum;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the standing committee consider the following principles, laws, and constitutional changes for the Provincial Council Constitution: All jurisdictional matters; general laws; officers; Executive Board; convention, powers of Local Unions and District Councils; Local Union and membership admissions; nomination, election and appointments; Local Union and District Council Bylaws, including duties of officers, apprenticeship; obligation; finances and dues; transfer, withdrawal, and resignation of members; offences and penalties; charges, trials, appeals, and grievances; Local Union funds; property; affiliations, disaffiliations, and mergers; supervision employing the principles of natural justice and just cause; and any other appropriate provisions and amendments that are deemed necessary to protect the vested rights of members.
Submitted by: Northwest British Columbia District Council, Local Union 1346 Vernon, Local Union 1540 Kamloops, Local Union 1812 Duncan, Local Union 1998 Prince George, and Local Union 2068 Powel River.
K-1 References to United Brotherhood
WHEREAS: The General President has used his unfettered discretionary powers, under Section 6A of the Constitution like a sword, cutting to shreds any semblance of union democracy; and
WHEREAS: The Constitution of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America does not adequately provide for the basic elements of democratic practice; and
WHEREAS: The General President feels that he has the authority in his discretionary powers to do as he sees fit, with no regard for the wishes of the membership; and
WHEREAS: It is the constant exercise of the rights of union citizenship that is the price of union democracy:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the British Columbia Council of Carpenters remove all references to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the General President, the General Executive Board, and the United Brotherhood Pension Plan from the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters Constitution and Bylaws.
Submitted by Local Union 1237 Dawson Creek
K-4 RIGHT TO VOTE
WHEREAS: Some members of the Carpenters Union in BC were not given the right to vote in the September, 1999 British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters referendum vote; and
WHEREAS: Our members should have the right to determine the direction and destiny of their union without imposition of their Local Unions dictatorship:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters make sure that every affected member in BC is guaranteed and informed of their right to vote on any Provincial Council referendum.
Submitted by Local 1995 Vancouver-New Westminster.
M-8MEMBERS DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
WHEREAS: The International continues to take away the democratic rights of carpenters all across North America; and
WHEREAS: The International spares no expense to obtain the restructuring model forced on the rest of the Brotherhood; and
WHEREAS: The monies that we sent the International in per capita tax is frightening, considering what we receive in return; and
WHEREAS: All we will become under the International is nothing more than a franchised labour broker:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters continue to defend the democratic rights of its
Submitted by Local Union 1995 Vancouver-New Westminster
WHEREAS: A resolution for autonomy is presented in some form at convention every year, reiterating the demand for such changes; and
WHEREAS: The International is poised to inflict their form of democracy on the carpenters of British Columbia; and
WHEREAS: Restructuring in some form is imminent; and
WHEREAS: The time for talking is over:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters take the initiative and demand autonomy from the International union.
Submitted by Local Union 1540 Kamloops (Click for more resolutions)
Lots of friends on the independence side
Brickies pledge assistance
The highlight of the BC Carpenters Union convention in April was the presentation by Canadian Bricklayer president Jerry Coelho. The Brickies formed their own independent Canadian union last year after a long struggle with their International.
According to Coelho, what prompted them to start their breakaway was a tough strike in 1995 that almost broke the union in Ontario. At the time, they were sending about $1million a year to Washington in per capita and the only help that the International offered was a $75,000 loan.
They are suing us to repay and we have counter-sued for millions, claiming unjust enrichment, he said.
After unsuccessfully attempting to put the Canadian Brickies under receivership, the International agreed to a series of meetings to discuss Canadian autonomy.
The Internationals idea of Canadian autonomy was a page in their newsletter, said Coelho. Maybe you already have a Canadian page in your Internationals newsletter?
By 1997 the Brickies were again in front of the Labour Board under Ontarios Bill 80 which guarantees a union the protection of just cause in supervision actions. The Board ruled that the International had no place on the Bricklayer certifications, had to pay the Canadians $410,000 in damages and had to accept three of five Canadian trustees on the officers pension plan. Victory.
The Brickies havent paid a cent in per capita since. The International took us to court (again) and tried to get an injunction to take all our money, assets and bargaining rights, said Coelho. They lost and had to pay us $50,000 in costs.
Coelho said his unions new constitution commits them to assist other trade unions in becoming autonomous.
We are here to help, he concluded. We look forward to the day when allor at least mostof the construction trades are running their own affairs in Canada.
Brick and Allied Craft Union of Canada General President Jerry Coelho says I want you to know you are not alone.
BC Provincial Council president Len Embree recaps the struggle for Canadian autonomy and rededicates the Council to preserve the Canadian memberships rights to make the decisions that affect our union. They are not going to deprive us of the right to vote, he declares
Thirty-five yearsRobbi Bowden receiving a plaque, a bouquet and many, many thanks from Council secretary-treasurer Dave Flynn for her 35 years of dedicated service to the Provincial Council
BCFL president Jim Sinclair accuses the federal government of stealing unemployment insurance from seasonal workers. It was seasonal workers...that built this country and its absolutely ridiculous that they now turn around and somehow decide were bad people.
Piledriver Mark Derton, president of the Lower Mainland District Council urges us to work together
On the Level June, 2000 p6
School Board Focus
Bill 7 more than just back-to-work law
by Doug McCorquodale
The passing of Bill 7 in the BC Legislature is about more than just ordering CUPE support workers back to work in BC schools. It affects all collective bargaining in the public schools.
The Bill appoints an Industrial Inquiry Commission (IIC) in accordance with the Labour Relations Code. The Bill and the IIC perform two functionsas well as ordering CUPE back to work with a mechanism to conclude an agreement using mediation/arbitration with a final binding determination from the IIC, it also examines collective bargaining structures in the K-12 system with a recommendation to government on how to improve those structures.
The root of the dispute between CUPE and the School Districts and the government goes back several years.
The government, in the early nineties, enacted legislation for teachers that compelled the School Districts and the teachers to submit to province-wide bargaining. This was done by giving the bargaining rights to the British Columbia Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA). The School Districts are represented by elected trustees. These entry-level politicians resented giving up control.
BCPSEA has never favoured province-wide bargaining. In 1998 the government had to force the employers of the School Districts through legislation to comply with a negotiated agreement with the teachers.
The Public Sector Employers Council (PSEC), a government creation to oversee the various public sector employers associations, brought in wage controls in the mid-1990s.
The government used Orwellian language by calling the wage controls, guidelines. These guidelines were divided into mandates. The first mandate allowed a two-year agreement of zero and one per cent. The one per cent was paid on the 20th month of the agreement. The second mandate, in which most if not all the School Districts now find themselves, allowed for a three-year agreement with a zero increase in the first two years and 2 percent in the final year.
The responsibility of delivering these mandates was left to BCPSEA in the K-12 system. This meant that in bargaining, the trustees would negotiate an agreement and then would require a further ratification from BCPSEA and ultimately PSEC. More often than not, the union membership would have ratified the agreement only to have the employers reject some agreed upon item(s). BCPSEA was seldom at the negotiating table and it was evident that the negotiating structure did not work.
The frustration of the K-12 support workers unions, including CUPE, was heightened by wage controls from a government that they had elected, coupled with a bargaining structure that did not work.
CUPE, which had a very autonomous bargaining structure that only allowed bargaining by School District, changed its view. CUPE created a province-wide bargaining structure for its union in the K-12 system. BCPSEA on the other hand refused to bargain with CUPEs new structure, preferring instead to delegate its authority to each School District, and retain veto rights on any agreement negotiated.
CUPE began taking strike votes. They were challenged by the employers at the LRB and in some cases had to retake strike votes. Two locals set a strike deadline for January 20, 2000 and went on strike. The four-day strike ended when CUPE, BCPSEA, and the government signed an Interim Accord.
Interim AccordPay Equity, Benefits Trust, Job Security, Bargaining, Ratification
The Accord had five parts to it. The first was a commitment to pay equity funding to 2003. It also allowed for pay equity review for consistent application of pay equity principles. On the second part, the parties agreed in principle to enter a jointly trusted benefits trust agreement upon successful completion of certain agreements and reviews. The third part of the Accord dealt with job security. The fourth section of the Accord covered the examination of new models for regional and provincial models of collective bargaining. The government was to partially reimburse CUPEs and BCPSEAs actual costs in developing these negotiating models. The fifth part dealt with the conditions under which the Accord would be implemented including ratification of collective agreements.
CUPE was still unable to get BCPSEA to the table for provincial talks. On March 27, 2000 CUPE went on strike. The government responded with Bill 7.
It has become apparent to all the unions in the K-12 system, the government and employers, that a new bargaining system is required. It certainly cannot be made up of only CUPE in a province-wide bargaining system. It would have to include all the support staff unions. On a provincial model, a council of trade unions using the method of a double majority should be required. The double majority requires a majority of trade unions and a majority of support staff workers in order to ratify a collective agreement.
Carpenter School Board Negotiations
So far this year, the Carpenters School Board units of Prince George and Quesnel have settled their collective agreements. Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Fraser-Cascade (Hope-Agassiz) will begin negotiating agreements this year. Everyone in the K-12 system is watching the outcome of the Industrial Inquiry Commission deliberations on province-wide bargaining and the CUPE collective agreement settlement.
High failure rate hits apprentices
Carpenter apprentices across the country are finding serious difficulties with the new exam system introduced in December, but a fix is on the way, according to Carpentry Apprentice and Training Committee co-ordinator Bob Whitaker.
The national pass rate has plunged to 33.5 per cent. British Columbia apprentices are only slightly better off with a 40 per cent pass rate. It takes a 70 per cent mark to pass the fourth-year TQ exam and the national average mark has been only 61 per cent so far this year. Of 161 participants, only 54 passed.
CATC co-ordinator Bob Whitaker says that eight questions used in BC have been removed from the 400 question test bank as they are unclear, another three questions had typographical errors and have been re-keyed, but the biggest factor was 23 code questions that required examinees to look up answers in the Building Code. With a total of 125 questions on the exam and only three hours to write, there was only 80 seconds available per question.
BC apprenticeship authorities have agreed to revert to the old examination system until the new tests can be fixed.
The CATC has recommended that ITAC should remark the exams, leaving out the questionable and unclear questions.
Whitaker says that reducing the number of questions to 100 and paying more attention to teaching both metric and imperial measuring systems would help bring back the success rate.
These marks should put pressure on the educational facilities to update teaching methods and update our curriculum to meet the National Core standards, he said.
Whitaker also believes that apprentices will have better pass rates if they make maximum use of their log books to ensure they have adequate on-the-job training. It is the apprentices responsibility to seek out a well-rounded experience, he said and keeping an up-to-date log can help in that area. He also faulted contractors that dont provide a broad enough experience base for apprentices. They need to work with their apprentices, not just throw them out there as cheap labour.
Need help with Alcohol, Drug or Family Problems?
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On the Level June, 2000 p7
by Dave Flynn
Contract approved by 53 per cent of voters
Agreement ratified by province-wide ballot
On April 20 the ballots for the provincial ratification vote on the memorandum of agreement were counted at the Carpenters Centre in Vancouver. Knowing that the memorandum was controversial and the vote was likely to be close, the Provincial Council brought in former Provincial Council President and current member of the Labour Relations Board, Colin Snell, and Industrial Relations Officer Ken White from the Labour Board as observers to supervise the counting of the ballots.
As expected, the results were very close, with the agreement being narrowly supported by a 53 per cent acceptance vote. Construction Labour Relations was advised of the voting results later that day in order that the terms of the memorandum could be implemented the following week.
The closeness of the vote should send a very clear message to both the employers and the Union negotiating committee. While most members recognize the need to allow our signatory contractors to remain competitive, particularly on commercial and institutional work, it appears that many have reached the limits of their tolerance with respect to making further cuts to the Standard Agreement. Employers need to temper their enthusiasm for enabling with the knowledge that 47 per cent of the membership who voted rejected the memorandum. Any overzealous or inappropriate application of the enabling clause could easily tip the balance the other way.
The Joint Advisory Committee also needs to take heed of the closeness of the vote. Every effort will have to be made at the quarterly meetings of the JAC to increase the rates in the enabling frameworks. Where ever possible, wages must be bumped upwards. If the membership can see some improvement to their circumstances over the life of this agreement perhaps some confidence in their union may be restored.
The Millwrights Local 2736 also recently concluded a memorandum of agreement. This agreement is something of a historic document in that, for the first time in BC, the Millwrights agreement will not be an addendum to the Carpenters Standard Agreement. The 1999 BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Convention endorsed the policy that the Millwrights be given the right to negotiate their own agreement, independent of the Carpenters Agreement. Although there were a number of obstacles placed in their pathfrom the initial resistance of the employers to agree to an independent Millwright agreement to outrageous demands at the bargaining tableon April 26, the Millwright Negotiating Committee finally reached an agreement.
The Millwrights recently completed ratification of the new agreement, accepting it province-wide by 57 per cent. With the ratification, the only piece of unfinished business will be making a joint application with Construction Labour Relations to the Labour Relations Board to have the existing Carpenter/Millwright certifications varied.
The objective of the application will be to identify those employers that do not employ Millwrights and have Local 2736 removed from their certifications. Conversely, the Carpenter Locals will be removed from the certifications of those mechanical contractors that only employ Millwrights. When this is accomplished the Millwrights Local 2736 will have the same status as other Provincial Council affiliates such as the Piledrivers and the Floorlayers. The Local will hold the bargaining rights for their trade sector and will to a large extent be the masters of their own destiny.
Spotlight on organizing
Master Builder concept has merit
by Josh Coles, provincial organizer
Construction has become an unattractive carreer choice mainly because of excessive sub-contracting, rip-offs and not enough co-worker solidarity to challenge these abuses.
But many believe there is still time to make it better. An advantage of construction is that it is not a sunset industry, unlike forestry and fishing. There will always be work building mega-projects, new hotels and condos. Just as our industry was a decent place to work in the 1970s we can once again make it sane.
There are solutions. The trick is getting someone to listen and pressing people to act.
One person to listen to is US project architect Jeffrey W. Ganthner who has been shouting for years that construction needs to steer away from the religion of sub-contracting and low bid and return to the principles of the Master Builder.
Ganther argues that the North American construction industry is over-fragmented. Because a separate company does each phase of a project, everyone ends up passing the liability buck. Few are responsible for their own actions. The designers blame the contractors for mistakes, the contractors blame the sub-contractors and the sub-contractors blame the workers. The workers blame each other and we end up with a union where members try to crush each other.
Not only is this atmosphere anti-organizing, its also a cancer for the whole construction industry. It breeds quality problems, increases the numbers of deficiencies (where carpenters are encouraged to work for free), and leaves a bad taste in the mouths of customers.
Ganther argues for a return to a time when there was no difference between designers, constructors and workersthere was only the all-in-one Master Builder. A Master builder leads a true design-build project where the same crew of carpenters and other tradespeople understand all aspects of their projects, from design conception to final construction.
Under this model the layout forman could actually be the one who drew the blueprints, and the drywall boarder could be the one who designed the interior systems.
Project complexities require a single Master Builder who manages the crews and has full control of the design and construction of the project. The owners of the project conceive the idea, the Master Builder makes it come true.
The typical progression of the Master Builders is from apprentice to craftsperson to Master Builder. Its a high honor to become a Master Builder. Respect from owners and co-workers is earned, not appointed. Unlike today, where we compete with each other for the next job, under the Master Builder model the competition is skill not wage.
Master Builders learn how to design by first learning how to construct. They are in touch with the crews, the materials, and the methods. Their designs are solutions to their own created problems. Although the final product has to look like the owner wanted, the Master Builder is truly the designer and since no one else could do it, they are also the constructor. The Master Builder is one complete package. They, along with crews they coordinate, are the entire design and construction industry.
This is not Project Management. Todays project management companies sub-out key tasks, and their legal liabilities, to dozens of independent contractors. A flurry of passing the buck results in the person with the least amount of power getting stuck with the most amount of blamethe tradesperson.
The Master Builder is true design-build where the same crew of people hold the responsibilities, and liabilities, for each phase of the project. This crew, therefore, is not going to do something at the beginning of a project that causes a logistical nightmare at the end. Unlike todays construction world, the Master Builder model encourages efficiency not deficiencies.
Many will argue that reverting back to the Master Builder model is impossible, even if it is good for the average tradesperson.
Ganther, however, believes it is possible if there is a wholesale re-think in the way we look at the role of tradespeople. Instead of seeing carpenters as formwork specialists, for example, we see our members as skilled technicians that never stop learning all parts of their trade and the entire construction process. We value apprentices not as cheaper labour but future Master Builders and leaders.
Ganther believes the Master Builder can be recreated from individual strengths of the architects and engineers (both design and construction) and of tradespeople into a single team that will give the Master Builder the ability to compete. Combining their talents into a coordinated project effort will give the Master Builder concept its competitive edge over current design and construction options.
We can act on some of these ideas as soon as we stop pointing cannons at ourselves and using our despair as a sick opportunity for hostile takeover. Instead in-fighting we need a big rethink of the most basic assumptions of todays construction industry.
For more on the Master Builder concept on the web, go to: http://construction.about.com/industry/construction/mbody.htm
CLAC certification tossed
In the last issue, Spotlight on Organizing mentioned the Vertex Construction application for certification by the Building Trades that was pre-empted by the company signing with CLAC six days later. After almost three years of consideration, the BC Labour Board has finally decided that its original decision to award the cert to CLAC was wrong and has reversed itself.
The Board now considers that craft certifications are at least as valid as all-employee models and that the consideration of administrative efficiency does not apply in construction. The Board previously took the position that the larger unit (all-employee) would be preferred given the concerns regarding access to collective bargaining, industrial stability and administrative efficiency.
The Board now says, Because both structures offer access to collective bargaining and neither raise concerns about industrial stability
there is no reason to prefer one application over the other.
This is, however, a hollow victory as the company has finished the job and decamped for Alberta where the award is unenforceable.
Another example of workers losing the right to union representation because of Labour Board over-regulation.
On the Level June, 2000p8
By Len Embree
Convention meets expectations
Delegates support constitutional resolutions
In talking to some of the delegates following our annual convention in mid-April, it was quite obvious that the debate on the issues confronting us and the resolve shown in the decisions made met all expectations. Resolutions were debated with vigour, with a good solid majority deciding the issues.
It was a pleasure indeed to meet and to hear Brother Jerry Coelho from the Brick and Allied Craft Union of Canada. The passion that he brings to their struggle on behalf of the unions members is refreshing. A considerable number of delegates took the opportunity to discuss issues with Jerry privately, which has led to some interesting discussion amongst local unions about our situation in British Columbia.
It seems to me that the discussion and debate cant help but be healthy for our union. If the experience of the Brick and Allied Craft Union is any example, more membership involvement, along with Canadian autonomy, has made possible a much better collective agreement. That result is commendable in its own right. Jerrys speech to the convention is reported on under Convention Coverage elsewhere in this issue.
A standing committee whose goals were set out in Resolution M-21 has been appointed and held their first meeting on May 25 (See story elsewhere in this edition). The committee is charged with taking submissions and conferring with members to strengthen our Constitution and then proposing amendments to the Executive Board, to be voted on by membership referendum. They will have a huge task facing them and will need the support of all our members to accomplish it successfully. I have every confidence our members will participate fully in this process.
One of the issues that was raised consistently at local union membership meetings was unwavering support for autonomy. In fact, in some areas the membership expressed dissatisfaction at what they saw as lack of progress on the issue, and felt that the Provincial Council wasnt doing enough on it.
A province-wide referendum in 1991authorized the Provincial Council to pursue Canadian Autonomy by a resounding 98 per cent.
Another high point was the opportunity to spend some time with our visitors from the CFMEU of Australia. Sharing their experiences was quite inspiring. It was interesting to learn that after a previous delegation visited our convention a few years ago their rehabilitation plan was modeled on and developed from the one the building trades have in BC. Considering that our union played a leading role in developing the rehab plan here, the value of these exchange visits becomes obvious.
Wayne Stone retirement
The Executive Board authorized holding a banquet at this years convention, to allow our union to pay recognition to Brother Wayne Stone. After close to 30 years with the Carpentry Workers Welfare Plan/Benefit Plan and Carpentry Workers Pension Plan, Wayne is retiring and relocating to Moyie in the Kootenays where he is building a house. We wish Brother Stone well in his retirement and urge you to remember to take your tools along if you are going to visit this summer.
An interesting report was received at the May 9 Executive Council meeting of the BC Federation of Labour regarding the 30,000 SEIU members in Ontario seeking to affiliate with the CAW. Negotiations are ongoing in an attempt to resolve this issue without CLC sanctions against CAW. Also reported on was the issue of the Carpenters industrial local union at Pembroke, Ontario, whose members have moved to the IWA. It seems rather apparent from both these situations that Canadian workers will always seek options when they are denied their democratic rights.
The provincial campaign on workers rights being conducted by the Fed around the province is proving to be quite successful. The Federation will be augmenting this campaign with a questionnaire to be distributed on jobsites. Our members have been quite active in this campaign, and I hope that this will continue.
It is hoped that ratification of the new Memorandum of Agreement with CLRA will mean an increase in work for our members. That should add a positive note to the coming summer months. Having an agreement in place will make it that much easier to deal with the other critical issues facing our organization over the next few years.
Whatever the developments, the struggle will continue.
Benefit Plan Deadlines
The deadline for 1999 Pacific Blue Cross Extended Health claims is June 30, 2000.
All claims for prescription drugs, hospital room, physiotherapy, chiropractic, podiatrist, massage practioner, or naturopath expenses (originals only) must be submitted to:
Pacific Blue Cross, PO Box 7000,
Vancouver, BC, V6B 4E1
For further information, please call toll free 1-888-275-4672 or in the Lower Mainland call 419-2600.
Carpentry Workers Dental/Optical expenses for 1999 must also be submitted by June 30, 2000.
Please attach paid receipts to the Dental/Optical claim form available at your Local Union office and forward to:
Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan of BC,
Suite 300 2806 Kingsway,
Vancouver, BC, V5R 5V1
For further information, please telephone (604) 438-2434
Note Please do not send Dental/Optical claims to Pacific Blue Cross.