Community Benefits Agreement: Industry Stakeholders Taking Action
On Monday, July 16, BC’s NDP government revealed details of a highly controversial “Community Benefits Agreement” which goes far beyond the traditional CBA model.
VICA certainly supports any initiative that promotes apprentices, indigenous peoples, and women in the trades but, in doing so, any agreements must be good for all Vancouver Islanders and British Columbians.
As champions of fair, open, and transparent procurement practices we denounce any subjective or preferential eligibility requirements. Here's what you need to know, and what you can do about it.
What It Is:
- A new Crown Corporation that will hire only union workers for construction of major public projects.
- All construction worker payroll and benefits will run through this government Crown Corporation.
- The Crown Corporation will be called “BC Infrastructure Benefits Inc.” (BCIB) and will be considered the Employer of all employees working under the scope of the CBA.
- Contractors must recognize the BCIB as the employer.
- Open-shop companies can bid on projects but their employees will be required to join a designated union (the newly-created “Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of BC”) after 30 days on the job.
- The Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of BC is a conglomerate of the International Building Trades Unions (BTU).
- The first two projects that will be procured this way are:
- The Pattullo Bridge replacement project is currently in RFQ (until September 27)
- Kamloops-Alberta Highway 1 expansion to four lanes
- $0.32 per hour will be deducted from each worker’s pay cheque, and $0.25 of that will pay for the administration of the new Crown Corporation.
- $0.25 will be contributed to the Council Administration Fund
- $0.06 will be contributed in equal parts to each of the following: Rehabilitation Fund, Industry Health and Safety Fund, SkillPlan
- $0.01 will be contributed to the Jurisdictional Assignment Plan Fund
- The CBA includes employees hired to perform construction work on the project including Owner Operators, and including employees of Contractors who provide Security Guard and Fire Prevention on the Site.
- All unions, even if they are not a member of the BC Building Trades, are bound by this agreement.
Premier Horgan claims this approach will drive apprenticeship, training, and employment opportunities for women and indigenous people, that projects will run more safely, efficiently, and economically, and that there will only be a modest 4 to 7 per cent increase in construction costs.
- VICA does not support this CBA; it contravenes many of our provincial body's (BCCA) Industry Policy Statements.
- While Community Benefit Agreements can have positive impacts when done properly and in partnership with industry, in this instance the name “CBA” name is being co-opted to disguise a union labour agreement.
- We believe it amounts to conscription of British Columbia's construction workforce.
- This policy contravenes the obligation of government for fair, open and transparent procurement practices.
- BC’s construction industry is facing a skilled worker shortage: restricting and creating barriers to employment and project opportunities will make this problem worse.
- It is incorrect in today’s marketplace that union employers pay better, train more, offer better benefits packages, or prioritize safety more than open-shop employers.
- The CBA potentially violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees our rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to be treated equally.
- This CBA tips the balance of power away from union employers to the unions themselves, subsequently undermining the role of all employers in the construction industry, whether union or open-shop.
- The CBA will result in greater expense to taxpayers.
What You Can Do About It:
Join BCCA's grassroots letter writing campaign to tell Premier Horgan, your local MLAs, and the BC MP’s that represent our province in Ottawa that this CBA will not be accepted by our industry.
Register today for BCCA's Member-Only Town Hall Meeting
This might be the most important industry topic you’ll discuss this year. As a respected and influential member of the Vancouver Island Construction Association, your presence and participation are crucial for our success as we work to craft an official industry response to government. Seating is limited.
Date: Thursday, September 6, 2018 | 7:00 - 8:30 PM - Stay tuned for details about our Town Hall in Victoria!
Location: Coast Bastion Hotel, 11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo (map)
For meetings in Vancouver, Prince George, or Kelowna, click here.