B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sided with opposition MLAs Tuesday to reject an NDP government plan allowing construction union raids every summer.
The three-member Green caucus helped defeat the construction raiding plan, which targeted independent unions such as the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) that have made inroads into traditional closed-shop work sites for large construction in B.C. CLAC and its affiliated contractors have a majority of work on the Trans Mountain pipeline project, awaiting final approval by the federal government.
The NDP government appointed an expert panel to advise on changes to the Labour Relations Code last year, and it recommended that union raids only be allowed after a contract has been allowed to work for three years. Labour Minister Harry Bains made an exception for construction, arguing that some construction jobs don’t last three years.
Weaver said he considered the fact that B.C. and Yukon Building Trades unions have no-raid agreements with each other, and the emergence of new unions that dispose of traditional craft lines between jobs. He called on the government to do a thorough review of construction labour in B.C.
Weaver said the Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers (CMAW) and others are “end-to-end project unions” that are “looking for a fair and level playing field.
“That’s exactly what we’re looking for, one that’s grounded in evidence, not in ideology,” Weaver said.
Former premier Christy Clark imposed an open-shop labour agreement on the Site C dam being constructed in northeast B.C., the first ever B.C. Hydro project not to have an exclusive deal with the Building Trades. The main civil works contract was won by a consortium called Peace River Hydro Partners, with CLAC as their main union.
Ryan Bruce, CLAC’s B.C. manager of government relations, said three Building Trades unions staged an unsuccessful raid at the Site C project in 2017, meeting employees at Fort St. John airport and following them to the work camp.