Construction stakeholders and new members of the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) Appointments Council Mike Gallagher and Ian Cunningham teamed up to urge delegates attending the recent convention of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario to get on board with OCOT and start nominating trades representatives to various boards.
Gallagher, business manager with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 793, and Cunningham, president of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA), said in their addresses to delegates there is an urgency to recruit new board members.
There are already openings on various boards and, in the next year, numerous terms will expire, requiring a major influx of new appointees.
"We need strong, committed, connected people to fill these vacant positions on the trade boards, the division boards and on the board of governors if the College is going to work for the best interests of the industry," said Cunningham in an interview following his address to the delegates in Niagara Falls.
Gallagher explained in his interview, "There are some 40 vacancies that are coming up in the next year on the employer and the employee sides on the various trade boards at different levels, and people should be thinking who should be on those boards.
"And the Appointments Council, we have a pool of applications that are presented to us, and if it’s not a very big pool, we have to pick the best. So the idea is to encourage more applications so we have better options in terms of people that are there for the right reason."
Cunningham said, "If the College governance structure is to work as it should, we need quality people to fill these positions on both the employer side and employee side."
The recent appointment of Walter Pamic, the chairman of the board of the Merit OpenShop Contractors Association of Ontario, to the OCOT Board of Governors was criticized by union trades associations. Gallagher said he felt it was important to address appointment issues directly with stakeholder groups like the Building Trades.
"I think that people need to understand the reasons behind the decisions that are made, or the appointments that are made, because in the absence of the facts, people tend to create rumours or misunderstand things. I felt it was important to clear the air for one thing," he said. "There has been a controversial appointment. We touched on it without going into great detail about it, but the reality is that those types of things tend to hurt the ongoing support that we like to have."
Addressing the Building Trades delegates, Gallagher said, "If you take anything from this presentation it is that I hope you consider: Can we serve, can we get involved, is our trade protected?"
He said the establishment of OCOT meant there was a path outside of government influence where in an increasingly technical sector, trades could become certified with better skills and health and safety training. After mobile and tower crane operators, members of the Operating Engineers became certified in 1977, operator error fell 80 per cent, he said.
"I want to ask you, implore you, to get on board, to get these trade board commitments filled up, and that’s how you get control," said Gallagher.
The presenters showed a chart indicating positions open on numerous trade boards and also mentioned vacancies on divisional boards, the roster of adjudicators and the board of governors.
Cunningham told the delegates, "It’s a call to action. Go to the website and see the positions that are available. If you think you can make a difference, if you think you can help your trade, step up and get involved."
Building Trades business manager Patrick Dillon commented, "I think the potential for OCOT is tremendous and having Mike and Ian, one from labour and one from the employers, here to advertise to worker reps in the room, we need your help, we want to build the College…will certainly move things forward."