|Remember Our Fallen Brothers
Eighteen Carpenter Union members were among the thousands killed when terrorism destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The Carpenters Relief and Charity Fund has raised over $1.2 million for the families of those deceased members. As well as assisting with the cleanup, New York carpenters are also working on four viewing platforms where the general public can pay homage to those who died in that horrible catastrophe. The first platform was opened on December 30, 2001.
Steven Russell LU 45, Maurice Kelly LU 157, Joseph Mistruilli LU 157, Brian Monaghan LU 157, Joseph Piskadlo LU 157, David Ruddle LU 157, Sean Canavan LU 608, Martin Coughlan LU 608, Paul Gill LU 608, Mauricio Gonzalez LU 608, Chris Kirby LU 608, Benjamin Millman LU 608, David Ortiz LU 608, John Rizzo LU 608, Patrick Woods LU 608, Erick Sanchez LU 2287, Matthew Diaz LU 2287, Daniel Rossetti LU NJ
The Canadian Labour Congress and your union condemns the horrific events while saying the attacks must not become the excuse...to undermine basic civil liberties and the rights to communication and democratic debate. Our response must be part of a renewed determination to build a just and peaceful world.
For more information on the WTC disaster , visit "Attack on America" at the Local Union 157 website.
Justification application at the Congress set to go ahead soon
BC Carpenters apply to CLC
By Doug McCorquodale
The conflict between the British Columbia Carpenters union and its parent organization the International over autonomy has been placed before the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters has made an application for justification.
Justification applications are to resolve differences without the affiliates relying on raiding or splits.
The Internationals bad faith behaviour with their refusal to have a face-to-face meeting with the British Columbia Provincial Council over the results of the members secret ballot autonomy vote taken in the spring of 2001 added impetus for the justification application. The 4000 votes from the members gave an overwhelming mandate to the Provincial Council to negotiate autonomy with the International. Almost 80 per cent of the members favoured autonomy in the spring 2001 autonomy vote.
International suing Council
The International clearly does not have the support of the membership in British Columbia to institute a union structure in BC that removes members rights, including their right to vote.
There will be a meeting with the International as a result of the justification application. If the International and the British Columbia Carpenters are unable to resolve their dispute then an ombudsperson investigates and submits a report with recommendations to President of the CLC. If the International does not agree with the recommendations then the process is placed before the CLC Executive Committee. The International and the BC Carpenters have the right to appear before the Executive Committee to present their case.
Prima facie case
The International is seeking legislation in the United States that is not legislation that will guarantee the basic rights of workers, including free collective bargaining and the right to strike and the security and welfare of all Canadians. The Canadian Carpenter leadership at the Congress (James Smith) has supported the Internationals American legislative agenda to build a tariff wall against Canadian jobs. This does not aid the security and welfare of Canadians contemplated in Section 3 of the CLC Constitution.
Article III Section 2 of the CLC constitution also requires as a condition of affiliation to the Congress that an affiliate is required to abide by the provisions and requirements of this Constitution.
The International continues to be in breach of the CLC Constitution with their flagrant disregard of democratic rights by not allowing votes. American protectionism policies from Bush, McCarrons friend, brought great harm to Canadian Carpenter members and all workers. McCarron makes much of his influence with George W. Bush, boasting of flying in Airforce One with him.
CLC Article VII (Code of Ethical Practices) is also violated by the International. Section 3 is based on the principles of voting, honest elections, the right to stand for and hold office and voice views freely. McCarron is against voting to establish his restructured union and elect officers.
The International is in contravention of Article XI Section 1 of the CLC Constitution. It is the position of the British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters that James Smith was not elected by Canadians. There never has been a central Canadian structure directing Canadian affairs of Carpenters. The Constitutional structure flows from each regional council (usually in each provincial labour jurisdiction) to McCarron.
UBCJA attacks BC softwood lumber
Last June McCarron sent a letter to the Provincial Council defending his actions in supporting a tariff against Canadian workers by calling it fair trade. In recent issues of The Carpenter magazine, McCarron denied anything to do with the tariffs.
In the May/June 2001 magazine, an editorial by Douglas J. McCarron outlines the unions position in regard to its recent disaffliation from the AFL-CIO. McCarrons reassuring explanation to the members was the promise, Our members are not going to lose jobs because of this decision. Too bad we didnt get the same reassurance for the unions tariff position.
It is clear that the International is in conflict with its members. It is representing the interests of American workers to the detriment of Canadian workers. Unions should have their jurisdiction and leadership in the same country. Directing Canadian workers from Washington is not a winning formula.
According to the Canadian Reforestation & Environmental Workers Society (a group representing silviculture workers) The changes proposed by Premier Campbell are more in the corporate than public interest. They include:
According to Ananda Lee Tan, a director of the society, there are reforms that would not only solve the softwood lumber dispute with the US, but also lead to a more innovative, ecologically sound and publicly beneficial forest sector for this and future generations. He suggests:
Voice your opinion
These are our forests they are negotiating over. Voice your support for tenure reform, real markets and strong public forest management. Call or write the Premier and Minister of Forests:
Premier Gordon Campbell
Hon. Michael De Jong
A brief history of our struggle
BC Carpenters resist International bullying
By Doug McCorquodale
The United brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America has undergone a major transition since 1995. That year saw the election by acclamation of Douglas J McCarron as the General president of the American dominated UBCJA. The delegates and the membership had no idea where McCarron was going to take them.
McCarron used the omnipotent powers in Section 6 of the UBC Constitution and restructured the union without a vote of the membership. This was largely accomplished by the acquiescence and betrayals of most Local leaderships throughout North America, who turned the union over to McCarron. Some few Locals and Districts like the Piledrivers Local 34 in Oakland CA and the Prince Edward Island District Council resisted at first. The vast majority of the British Columbia membership of the Carpenters union actively support autonomy and so it is the only jurisdiction that has not been devoured by McCarrons restructured union.
After five years of struggle with the International under the McCarron leadership there are certain characteristics of McCarronism that can be easily identified. Perfunctory edicts, no membership votes, different power structures, corporate thinking, pandering to employers and politicians, political lobbying (regardless of party) and so on.
McCarrons ideology is similar to the earlier leaders of the American Federation of Labour (AFL-CIO) commencing with Samuel Gompers. Many attribute business unionism to Gompers but today the modern business or corporate unionist is Douglas J. McCarron.
McCarron pulled the Carpenters union out of the Federation in March 2001, which automatically removed the Carpenters from the Building Trades. McCarron sent a letter to the membership stating, We will not send our members money to support a Washington bureaucracy. This comment could be applied more justly to BC carpenters sending upward of a million dollars a year to support McCarrons Washington bureaucracy.
McCarron, in a 1996 speech to BC Carpenters Union convention delegates, compared the carpenters union to a commercial enterprise and asked the delegates, Who would buy stock in this company? The delegates listened in stony shock as he further explained that direct democracy, the system before McCarrons restructured union, must be replaced by representative democracy as they have in the present American political system. He reduced the union to a corporation that would rely on a political system similar to the one that has always been against working people. The speech reminded one of the Orwellian stories of the pigs that turned on their colleagues, the other animals, enslaving them on Animal Farm.
The trade unions were founded to protect workers from abusive employers and bargain collectively for better wages and conditions of employment. Later trade unions became advocates for social justice. But to McCarron the union is a corporate entity. McCarron is the contractors man in charge of the International.
McCarron offered proof that the employers have control of the union when on March 23, in an address to the National Erectors Association convention in Hawaii, he told the contractors, You need the freedom to assign the work on what makes sense, what makes all of us competitive on the job. If there is a dispute let the owner settle it. Its his money and his job. Surely we have learned that much. He concluded by saying, Were serious about reorganizing the industry. Were serious about customer service.
No one should be surprised that McCarron is quite prepared to turn over the Carpenters jurisdiction to other unions by allowing the contractor to decide. McCarron sits on the Board of Directors of the Perini Corporation, one of the largest construction companies in the United States. He sees no conflict with this.
Other unions see the business unionism of McCarron as well. Michael Monroe, President of the Painters union was in a Building and Construction Trades Department meeting when McCarron, rattling his sabres, threatened the other Building Trades unions. Monroe quotes McCarron as saying that his union could go it alone. After Ive paid all my bills and all the salaries for my staff, he said, my profit line is at $50 million. Monroe retorted in an article, His profit line? Is he a labor leader or a young corporate raider? Perhaps McCarron needs to give UBC members a break on dues if hes hoarding all that wealth as a profit line.
McCarron is not fond of consulting Canadiansespecially Canadian carpenters. Whether it be building pipelines or advocating soft wood tariffs, McCarron fails to consult.
In August 2001, McCarron supported US President Bushs scheme to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. A pipeline would be built across northern Canada linking Alaska with the continental USA. In defence of his support, McCarron retorted, Thats an American issue, its not an American labor issue. Is it not a Canadian issue as well?
McCarron invited Bush to speak at the 2001 Labour Day rally in Wisconsin where Bush called McCarron his good friend. At a subsequent Canadian Carpenters labour conference McCarron boasted that he rode with President Bush on Air Force One to and from the rally and had the attention of Bush. The benefits to Canadians were not expanded upon.
McCarrons restructuring has led to a Regional Council hierarchical structure. Today the Regional Councils are the central governing body on all matters instead of the Locals; this includes bargaining, collective agreement enforcement, organising, apprenticeships, health and welfare and pensions, revenues and expenditures, and participation at the International level. In most areas, these new Regional Councils were expanded into huge territories. For example, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council includes Montana, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon with over 30, 000 members. In BC, the International has proposed the opposite.
Here they want three Regional Councils for our 9, 000 members. The International is attempting to divide and politically crush the BC carpenters. According to the bylaws, the Regional Councils are governed by elected delegates from the Local Unions membership. However, the International has consistently appointed transition delegates to govern the Regional Councils. Usually, the transition delegates remain in power for 8-12 months (sometimes longer) and then are re-elected when it is considered safe to conduct an election. Delegates then reconfirm the Executive Officers, including the highest-ranking Regional Council officer, the Executive Secretary-Treasure (EST).
In the 69 Regional Councils, the EST has the power to hire, discipline, promote, and fire all employees of the Council, including Business Agents and Organizers. Except for clerical or janitorial employees of Locals, only the Regional Council has the authority to pay staff or officers.
The International launched lawsuits to compel British Columbia Local Unions to remit to the International Officers Pension Plan. Most Locals did not remit and the suits are still ongoing. Members have never been entitled to receive benefits from this very rich International Officers pension plan.
McCarron, intending to impose a regional council on Vancouver Island, sent a letter to Carpenters in the Vancouver Island District Council stating, Changes will be a product of consultation and will conform with the laws of British Columbia, and invited them to a series of meetings on Vancouver Island in July 1999. When McCarron got to Vancouver Island he informed the members there would be no votes.
Because of McCarrons perfunctory edicts, the International was found to have committed an unfair labour practice by not following a fair process. The International has been cautioned by the Labour Board not to merge Locals without membership votes or be found guilty of breaching BC law. This did not slow down McCarron. He ordered an audit of the Provincial Council and all the Local Unions.
In order to audit the Provincial Council, the International Union, Douglas J. McCarron personally, and his tiny group of BC supporters sued the Provincial Council to compel an audit. The audit was a ploy to seek trusteeship of the BC Provincial Council. That court case is continuing.
McCarrons defence to all the changes he is making is that it is the only way for the union to recover its membership. All his assertions that the union is doing well is unsupported by corroborating evidence. Taking away democracy and reducing the union to a labour broker is not union building. In his magazine, The Carpenter, he asserts in the Canadian attachment, It is the wages stupid! It is pretty clear that McCarron is not an organizer. It is necessary that most of the carpenters be in the union in order to raise wages, but the attraction of the union is not about wages alone. Any organizer that doesnt peddle the union like selling soap knows this. Nobody can convince workers to join a union where they have no vote.
McCarrons world is the corporate world. He loves to be with employers and Presidents. He wants the union to be a commercial enterprise. He is ruthless and panders to the worst elements in the union to achieve this goal. In order for the union to grow, McCarron, using the trains run on time argument, states that direct democracy must be eliminated. Such is his world, but not the world of trade unionism.
Constructing the future
Organizing conference sets tone for tomorrow
By learning about our challenges, I have found the strength to overcome them - Conference participant
In November, nearly 100 activist Carpenter Union members from across British Columbia continued the long march to rebuilding our union.
Over three days in Parksville the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters hosted Constructing the Future, an organizing conference with the goal of creating a community of organizers in every BC town.
Participants were asked to imagine themselves as non-union employees of Bobco Construction, a fictitious company run by archetypal owner Bob Colson. The challenge for participants was to organize Bobco in the face of a vicious employer attack that included captive audience meetings, threats and coercion, discrimination, an unsupportive government, and competition from CLAC, the employers choice of non-union.
Throughout the conference, Jan Noster, an organizer from Local 1995, portrayed Bob Colson as a cunning yet successful employer ready to use every dirty company trick to keep Bobco free from the Carpenters Union.
Conference participants, acting as Bobco employees, learned how to survive these attacks using advice from guest speaker Martin J. Levitt. Levitt is a former union buster who from 1960s through to the late 1980s planned and executed union-busting campaigns at more than 250 businesses across North America.
Levitt told conference participants that he reached the pinnacle of his profession by demolishing friendships, shattering families, and turning workers against workers. Manipulation is just one of the dirty tricks that have transformed the attack on organized labour into a billion-dollar industry, and Levitt has decided to clear his conscience and expose them all.
Conference participants also learned that, as organizers, they must address workplace racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Guest speaker Irma Mohammed, the Director of Diversity Educational Issues at the BC Federation of Labour, reminded participants that in both union and non-union settings many workers feel discrimination everyday. Mohammed lead a workshop that helped many members to stand up and tell their own stories about the sexism and racism that they have experienced in their union settings.
The BC Carpenters Union received the message loud and clear: the sooner we address discrimination within our own ranks; the sooner we offer non-union workers shelter from their mistreatment. If we ourselves are discriminatory, then how can we offer an alternative to non-union workers through organizing?
Conference participants also learned about the attack our provincial government is waging on it own employees, and all workers. Gary Steeves, the Director of Organizing for the BC Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU), reminded participants that not only do unions need to organize non-union companies, but we also need to organize against the government. Fighting for workers rights, he said, must happen on many fronts. It must be on the job, and in the streets. Steeves said one way to make privitization of public services less attractive to government is to ensure that private contractors get unionized.
At the close of conference, Bobco employees were successful in organizing the hostile Bob Colson and his company. Through the process, participants learned that to ultimately organize entire industries we cant be a union that just talks about wages. We have to be ready for the employers manipulation, we must address discrimination, fight governments, and be prepared for CLAC and other rat unions.
note: click for the BOBCO Inc page, a satire of "union-busting" websites that grew out of the Organizing conference
Carpenter tested highest for thallium exposure
What went wrong at Trail?
with reports from Trade Talk, CP and Can-West
So what went wrong to poison at least 60 construction workers at the Teck Cominco lead-zinc smelter in Trail last year?
In August, about 65 boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, ironworkers and labourers were sent into the Kivcet boiler to do maintenance work. Although one level of Teck management was aware of the presence of thallium, the information was never passed on to the workers. The local Workers Compensation safety inspector and even the company occupational health and safety superintendent were not aware of the presence of this toxic heavy metal. Later reports put the number at 140 workers exposed to some degree to the thallium.
Teck management said it was embarrassed by this incident and blamed it all on a communications breakdown.
This incident should not have happened, said Teck Cominco CEO David Thompson.
It is unacceptable that maintenance contractors and their employees were not properly informed of the substances they would encounter during the work they carried out at our Trail smelter.
Thallium is a potent, naturally occurring heavy metal that has been used in rat poison. It is a byproduct of the smelting process. Short term exposure to the tasteless, odorless mineral can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, temporary hair loss, nerve damage, and damage to the lungs, heart, liver and kidneyseven death.
Medical experts say the symptoms are similar to Metal Fume Fever which is not fatal and safety inspectors assumed that was what was bothering the workers who felt flu-like symptoms.
Thallium is water soluble and so will eventually be eliminated by the body once exposure ceases, but no one is sure of what the long-term effects of massive exposure may be.
Exposure levels ranged from below 20 micrograms per litre to over 400 for Carey Bagg, a Local 2300 scaffolder. The maximum workplace level allowable is 50 micrograms per litre of urine.
In July, boiler scale samples were found to contain 19 per cent thallium. The report was never circulated to those planning the work inside the boiler and they specified only standard respirators and clothing for workers. But workers have since found a Material Safety Data Sheet from 1998 which noted high levels of highly toxic thallium in the boiler.
If all the data sheets were there, there would have been a totally different work procedure in place before we went in, said a bricklayer who was poisoned.
We would have worn moonsuits, chimed in a labourers representative.
Kootenay medical health officer Dr. Frank Timmermans said the literature suggests that levels below 500 carry little risk of long-term damage.
Local 2300 Business Agent Paul Nedelec is following the case closely with the WCB and will report on the investigation when it is concluded.
COUNCIL COMMENT by Dave Flynn
Justification ruling sought at Congress
Justification sets out a process to assist the parties to find a resolve
As we begin a new year, the pursuit of autonomy from the International continues to be in the forefront of Provincial Council activities. On October 12, 2001, after many weeks of deliberation on the best course of action, the BC Provincial Council made application to the Canadian Labour Congress, under what is referred to as the justification section of the CLC constitution.
The justification section sets out a process by which the Congress first tries to assist the parties to find a resolve to their dispute and, failing that, if the claim for justification is upheld there is a provision for direct affiliation to the CLC for a maximum of three years, during which time the members will be afforded the right to vote on whether they wish to remain with the International.
The decision to seek protection through the CLC was not made lightly. By letter, dated October 10, 2001, General President Douglas McCarron denied our request to approve those amendments to the Provincial Council Constitution governing the expenditure of legal and defense funds. The amendments had been approved by 95 per cent of our members through a referendum vote. All the criteria for amending our constitution, as set out in our constitution, had been met. Yet the General Office continues to withhold approval. Why? The answer is as simple as the Internationals strategy is transparent. At some point the International intends to use the issue of legal and defense expenditures as an excuse to impose trusteeship on the Provincial Council.
And that, I believe, is the real motivation behind the Internationals lawsuit against the Provincial Council. As witnessed in the Internationals failed attempt to impose a trusteeship on Local 1928, their modus operandi is to secure an auditors report suggesting some financial irregularity, thus providing themselves with an excuse to step in (see ON THE LEVEL, April 1998). Having failed to persuade the membership in BC to buy into their . restructuring program, the International is resorting to legal maneuverings to achieve their goals. The irony is they are proceeding with this action in spite of the fact that, as members of the Provincial Council Executive Board, two of the plaintiffs approved the expenditures in question. They are also proceeding in spite of the fact that when the International raised the issue of legal and defense spending, 95 per cent of the members in BC supported amendments to our constitution to clarify the legitimacy of the expenditures.
Having failed to persuade the membership in BC to buy into their restructuring program, the International is resorting to legal maneuverings to achieve their goals.
With the International tightening the vise through their court action and considering the likelihood of an attempt to obtain control of the Provincial Council through a trusteeship, the Provincial Council Executive Board felt it necessary to seek support within the labour movement. At their meeting held September 27, 2001, the Executive passed a motion instructing the Provincial Council officers to seek whatever protection from the International is available through the Canadian labour movement and the CLC. That led to our application to the CLC, requesting their intervention.
In order to counter our actions, the International is cranking up their propaganda campaign through the Carpenter magazine. International Vice-President, Jim Smith tries to dismiss our actions as a disgruntled group attempting a BC breakaway. He says that we cannot speak for the rest of the country. Maybe not, but we can speak for the almost 80 per cent of BC members that supported the referendum ballot authorizing the Provincial Council to negotiate autonomy.
Perhaps the leadership in the rest of the country should get a mandate from the membership they represent before they start advancing positions on Canadian autonomy.
In fact, if the International is taking the position that they cant deal with the autonomy issue with individual provinces; that it has to involve the entire Canadian membership, then maybe we should pursue a nation-wide secret ballot referendum, supervised by a third party such as the CLC, to determine if the members of the carpenters Union in Canada are satisfied with their current union structure, or whether they want the right to govern their own affairs. In the meantime, the BC Provincial Council will continue to follow the direction given us by the membership in British Columbia.
Presidents Corner by Len Embree
Looking forward to challenges of 2002
Justification application to the CLC was made in support of the membership autonomy referenda as well as resolutions from the BC Carpenters Convention
Well, time to check the old wall calendar for a quick review of what the past year presented.
When I was elected in 1998, my computer literacy was about the same as it is now quite limited. Consequently, I came to rely on a large wall calendar to keep track of meetings and events to attend and participate in. To my surprise, some of my more computer literate colleagues also use my wall calendar as a checklist.
Unfortunately, regardless of how visibly effective our records are, they never indicate the physical activity and emotion that goes on around these activities.
Since the repeal of Bill 26, both the Plumbers and the Boilermakers have said that the legislation doesnt affect them; regardless whether they participated in bargaining or not. They lost their original application at the Labour Relations Board when they went for a judicial review but now are back for further consideration. As a member of the Provincial Bargaining Council, we have no choice but to wait for the final outcome of this litigation. The alternative would be to go to the members for a vote on an agreement that may or may not be found invalid by the LRB.
On a more positive note, collective agreements were concluded by all our School Board Local Unions. This was accomplished in the face of tremendous political pressure. Under the circumstances, the respective negotiating committees did a remarkable job.
Considering the scurrilous attack by the International, the results (77 per cent in favour of autonomy) were extremely reassuring to all of the Executive Board, including myself. Our members continue to keep well informed and unwavering in their support for autonomy. The Internationals position of claiming all the BC members assets as theirs will undoubtedly strengthen and increase that support.
The Provincial Council has submitted a justification application to the Canadian Labour Congress in support of our struggle for autonomy. This was submitted in November and we anticipate the procedure to be completed by the time of the Provincial Council Convention in April.
The justification process is available to affiliates of the CLC as a dispute resolution mechanism. The CLC constitution lays out minimum standards for Canadian autonomy for affiliates to adhere to. Our position is that the International does not meet those standards and unless rectified, penalties should be applied.
In the coming months you will receive more correspondence from the International on how well they are doing (without corroborating evidence) and how a regional council without democracy is a good thing for the members!
The latest issue of The Carpenter grumbles that the Provincial Council did not attend a meeting of Canadian Carpenter officials in Calgary to discuss autonomy.
In the October 5 mail, the Provincial Council received a letter from GP Douglas McCarron (dated September 20, 2001) refusing a meeting to discuss autonomy until both sides have had the opportunity to define the context and content for those talks. Yet on October 4, the day before we received the letter, McCarron faxed a memorandum to Canadian Carpenter officials, including the BC Provincial Council, inviting them to a meeting in Calgary on November 5, 2001 to discussget ready for itautonomy!
In McCarrons memorandum he arrogantly states, While I understand that Canada may be unique, I need to obtain a clear perspective on the nature and level of dissatisfaction (if any) in Canada with our unions direction and policy, supported by 91% of the delegates at our 2000 [International] convention.
McCarron would not discuss autonomy with the BC Provincial Council without context and content conditions. On the other hand, he is prepared to discuss autonomy with officials that he originally appointed to office, without any pre-conditions (at least not in writing). These Canadian officials do not have any vote from their members dealing with autonomy (or any other matter), while the BC Provincial Council has an overwhelming membership vote supporting autonomy.
We will see many more distortions and lies in the future from the International. However, as reported in The Carpenter, we congratulate the Nova Scotia region for attaining a17 per cent increase. What was not reported was that the rate now stands at a little over $15 an hour.
This all reminds me of a comment that US Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson once made to Richard Nixon, If you stop telling lies about me Ill stop telling the truth about you. We like the sentiment but we can never make such a bargain with an organization like the International that climbed on the softwood lumber bandwagon and petitioned for tariffs to put tens of thousands of Canadians out of work.
additional website notes
read the pages from the Canadian issue of The Carpenter that are not in the American edition:
see the May/June Carpenter Magazine article about the UBCJA and the tariff on Canadian softwood lumber
click for more on diversity issues and on "the right to work harassment-free"
What to expect next
School Board News
Liberal cuts will hurt Carpenter members and workers families
by Doug McCorquodale
The election of the Campbell government was bound to have detrimental effects on support workers in the School Districts. Since the election, announcements of cuts of civil servants jobs, cuts in health programs, eliminating health districts and replacing them with a few mega districts to cover the entire province, freezes in education funding and school construction, have driven home the draconian costs needed to pay for Campbells tax cuts. Those few extra dollars received on some pay cheques mean that we must now pay for an increasing number of former government programs like Pharmacare and Medicare. Now the government contemplates opening the collective agreements and changing them arbitrarily to suit the employer. That would be the end of democracy.
The nurses settled at 22 per cent after all the belligerent talk and legislation between the government and the nurses. Now the teachers are up to bat. The government says the teachers will get less than the nurses. The British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) have strategically decided to follow at this time a legalistic determination of a strike. The definition of a strike is to withdraw services such as labour.
Facing the new Campbell government essential services act, the Teachers decided to continue teaching and withdraw other working activities. This is phase 1 of the Teachers strike. Submissions were requested to determine this matter. Many days of hearings at the Labour Relations Board produced a list of jobs the teachers were legally allowed to strike, such as: not making out report cards and no extra curricular activities. The second stage would have to be outside the confines of the essential services to be effective. No sign of that right now. The government and the employers are obviously on the offensive. Negotiations will not be easy in 2002.
In the next few years we will see an aggressive government employer. If we want to maintain and improve our standard of living, a vigorous campaign of improvements and defence of our contracts will be necessary. This also requires support to other workers that oppose Campbells program. All union members are urged to participate.
Carpenter Bursaries awarded to 10 students
The BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Education Committee is pleased to announce that 10 post secondary students have been selected to receive a $450 Carpenters Union bursary for the 2000-2001 study year. The students were required to submit short essays on some aspect of trade unionism in relations to politics, economics, social reform, history or personal experience.
Two students are eligible to win from each participating District Council area. A total of 19 applications were considered in 2001. Five were submitted from the Kootenay District, seven from the Lower Mainland, two from the Okanagan, four from the Northwest, one from Vancouver Island (a student from Courtenay had to withdraw for health reasons before the judging). Bursary cheques were distributed by the winners Local Union office.
Kalea Buckler from Castlegar continued her streak by winning her fourth bursary in a row, while Trevor Brady from Kitimat captured his third. Chelsea Horton from North Vancouver has won twice. Congratulations to those who won and thanks for the tremendous efforts of all who applied. There were no applicants from the Central District in 2001, a demographic anomaly that will probably not be repeated.
Any member, or spouse, son, daughter or grandchild of a BC member, who is registered to attend most types of post-secondary education may enter the annual bursary contest. Bursary application forms will be available at Local Union offices in May, 2002. The deadline for applications is usually the last working day of August before Labour Day.
Carpenters Union Bursary Winners for the year 2001
Kootenay District Council
Kalea Buckler Local 2300
Michelle Graham Local 1719
Chelsea Horton Local 506
Natasha Miladinovic Local 1995
Trevor Brady Local 1081
Raquel Guardo Yerex Local 1735
Patty Lynn Broxham Local 1370
Shelly M Tees Local 2511
Susan Doyle Local 1598
Angela Skarvig Local 527
Globalization and its Critics: The Role of the Trade Unions
This Bursary winning essay by the daughter of Shipbuilder Local 506 member, John Horton, is slightly abridged for publication.
by Chelsea Horton
Globalization: more than a mere buzz word or contemporary catch phrase, this term helps characterize the widespread process by which international capital has been increasingly subverting the interests of workers, consumers, and the environment in search of ever-expanding profits. While much lauded by the corporate sector, economic restructuring and its manifold effects have come under increasing criticism from a variety of interest groups worldwide. One of these groups, key to the anti-globalization movement since its inception, is labour. While the initial involvement of trade unions in the northern hemisphere stemmed from dissatisfaction with widespread job loss as employers moved production from developed countries to less developed regions, their concern has now broadened to include the plight of workers in exploitative export processing zones, the establishment of a new international workers movement, as well as criticism of the tenets of global economic restructuring in general.
Labour market polarized
Polarization of the labour market what the Economic Council of Canada describes as the good jobs, bad jobs phenomenon has encouraged much backlash from trade unions throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. Polarization has resulted not only in the loss of jobs as factories and plants have been moved to more profitable regions, but also in an increase in forms of nonstandard employment such as part-time, temporary, and home work. Such jobs are typically characterized, among other things, by poor wages and benefits, and an inability to unionize. Of this process of polarization, labour law instructor Judy Fudge argued in 1992 that:
Capitals attempt further to [sic] fragment the labour market poses a political challenge to organized labour and its supporters. We need to develop strategies which unite workers rather than replicate and emphasize differences between them which already exist.
While Fudge was writing specifically of the Canadian context, her comments are nonetheless applicable to the labour movement in general, and in fact speak implicitly to the numerous international solidarity initiatives which have emerged of late.
Labours concerns have moved beyond the national, and it has been argued that a form of global unionism largely based and dependant upon the Internet now exists. As Peter Waterman explained in 1997:
A globalised networked capitalism requires a globalised and networked labour response. We are living through a revolution within capitalism, one even more profound than that from a local craft-based capitalism to a national and industrial one. Just as that transformation required an equal one from the craft-based guild to the industrial trade union, so does ours from the national and industrial trade union to a globalised and networked model.
While it has been argued that the hierarchical nature of trade unions does not lend itself easily to the use of networking technologies such as the Internet, Canada Labour News nonetheless proclaimed in 1999 that:
There is a new spectre haunting the Internet a new international workers movement being birthed in cyberspace. The Internet and World Wide Web have become a new battle front in the age-old class war between workers and bosses. Globalization has created its own opposition.
Even a quick search on the Internet seems to confirm this statement. Although it may not be without its problems, the new international workers movement is nonetheless a strong presence on the web, as a plethora of related websites attests.
It is largely through the Internet and related communication technologies that solidarity movements between workers in the North and South have been born. The process of global economic restructuring and the establishment of ever-expanding free trade zones has encouraged not only a widespread shift in location for manufacturing operations, but also a shift in the nature of employment itself. As Naomi Klein states in her compelling book No Logo. this is not a job-flight story. Conditions of employment in exploitative export processing zones are incomparable to those in the North and it is precisely for this reason that trade unions throughout the developed nations have joined forces with social organizations in both the North and South in attempts to draw attention and spur change to the present system.
Unions the backbone
In Canada, Tony Clarke has described the nations private and public sector unions to a large extent the backbone of this broadly-based citizens movement against corporate rule and the dominant neo-liberal agenda. Organizations such as the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Auto Workers, the United Steel Workers, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees have all contributed to the cause. In the late 1980s, a contingent of labour and social organizations from across the nation came together to form the Action Canada Network. Together with its sister organizations the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Common Frontiers - the Action Canada Network is working in conjunction with similar coalitions in other countries, primarily the United States and Mexico.
The mission statement of the Canadian-based Maquila Solidarity Network aptly captures the intentions of such organizations. As the groups homepage states:
The Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) is a Canadian network promoting solidarity with groups in Mexico, Central America, and Asia organizing in maquiladora factories and export zones to improve conditions and win a living wage. In a global economy it is essential that groups in the North and South work together for employment with dignity, fair wages and working conditions, and healthy workplaces and communities.
In an age where treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement rule and agreements such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas threaten to be implemented, it is perhaps only natural that such international coalitions have emerged and are agitating for more equalized forms of development.
The anti-globalization movement is enigmatic and defies simple classification. Despite this fact, however, it is proving itself a powerful force, and trade unions and the labour movement will no doubt continue to play a significant role as they forge new alliances in their ongoing struggle against international capital.
As Indonesian writer Y.B. Mangunwijaya has stated, You might not see things yet on the surface, but underground, its already on fire.
Social housing project needs volunteers
Volunteer drywall blitz boarded Habitat project quickly
Drywall Blitz Some two dozen volunteers made a big difference at the Habitat For Humanity low-income housing development in Burnaby recently with a Drywall Blitz that saw most of the drywall installed in phase one of the project.
Several Vancouver Carpenters Union Local 1995 journey person Lathers, along with 12 BCIT Lather students, and several other volunteers, spent most of three days carrying, cutting and screwing up hundreds of sheets of drywall in the four, two-story townhouses, at 8745 Government Street in October.
William (Guy) Kiss, the co-ordinator of the Carpenter-Lather Joint Advisory and Apprenticeship Committee recruited and organized the 24 volunteers by advertising in ON THE LEVEL, putting up posters, and approaching instructors at BCIT to send their students on a practical fieldtrip to push the project ahead. Kiss also organized a barbecue to feed all the volunteers.
Habitat For Humanity is a non-government, non-profit organization seeking to alleviate poverty housing worldwide, but especially in the USA and Canada.
To be eligible to purchases a Habitat home, families must live below the poverty line and contribute hundreds of hours of their own labour, called Sweat Equity. With 27 units planned, this Habitat project will be the largest in Canada when it is completed in 4-6 years.
With the cost of housing in the Lower Mainland among the highest in Canada, it is difficult for people to afford decent housing or even rent. BC has a waiting list of 10,000 people for social housing while the government has recently suspended social housing projects.
Facing this shortage, more than 200 families have applied to Habitat for the first two phases.
Kiss says the project needs finishing carpenters and other trades now to get the units ready for occupancy. He suggests anyone with some spare time should phone Don Jantzen at Habitat for Humanity, pager (604) 292-5439.
Kiss would like to thank the following sponsors for his Drywall Blitz and barbecue:
Ray from IGA Burnwood in Burnaby for the soft drinks
Sandy from BunsMasters in Burnaby for the buns,
Lindsey from Fletchers fine foods for the smokies
Maury from Dewalt Tools for the many loaner tools and participation gifts,
Randy from the Carpenters Union for the use of his barbecue and the release time for some of the Unions business agents to work on the Blitz.
Lather courses to be offered
Kiss is looking forward to offering more IP Refresher courses this spring as well as trades upgrading and specialty applications training. He is making arrangements with manufacturers and distributors for orientation/demonstration courses for new techniques and material in the trade. For more information on the Joint Advisory and Apprenticeship committee, contact William Kiss at (604) 437-6031\
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