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Lewis leaves ‘inspirational’ legacy as construction labour lawyer and leader

Angela Gismondi
Lewis leaves ‘inspirational’ legacy as construction labour lawyer and leader
COURTESY CARPENTERS’ REGIONAL COUNCIL - Mark Lewis, general counsel for the Carpenters’ Regional Council, passed away July 24. He is being remembered for his “passion for the job” and for the trade union movement.

Mark Lewis will be remembered by his peers as a well-respected, knowledgeable and professional lawyer in construction and labour relations.

Lewis, general counsel and chief of staff with the Carpenters’ Regional Council, passed away July 24.

“He was a great individual to work with,” said Mike Yorke, president of the executive board of the Carpenters’ Regional Council. “He was inspirational. He was filled with passion for the job, filled with passion for the trade union movement…He brought total commitment to the role.”

Yorke said during his time with the Carpenters’, Lewis treated the staff with the utmost respect, always had time for people and was a leader that led by example. He recalled him working late nights to get the work done. He also “knew his stuff” when it came to labour relations, Yorke said.

“He was totally committed to the union, but he was also committed to the trade union movement,” Yorke said. “He was, to me, a true student of history of the labour movement, whether it was in England, in Wales and in North America, he could name key labour strikes and key moments in labour history.”

According to Yorke, Lewis demonstrated true leadership during the labour strike last year, fighting hard for members while treating people with respect.

“He was an inspirational leader during the strike, especially for the younger generation,” said Yorke. “They really respected his comments. When it was all over it was shake hands with the employers, get back to work and let’s build on our relationships. No hard feelings, no grudges…That was a really professional way to handle labour leadership.”

In addition to being a lawyer, Lewis was also vice-chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, an associate professor and a writer.

“Mark was a brilliant lawyer who touched the lives of many through his kindness, intelligence and dedication to improving labour relations,” Jim Vlahos, executive director of the General Contractors’ Association of Toronto (GCAT), said in a statement.

“Mark will be remembered as one of the most well-respected and prominent figures in not only construction labour relations, but also in the legal, political and academic worlds.”

Vlahos worked with Lewis for a few years before joining the GCAT and negotiated the last two provincial agreements across the table from him.

“He was dedicated to seeking fair resolutions for all parties and was greatly admired by colleagues and clients alike,” Vlahos stated. “As we mourn his passing, we also celebrate his life and the indelible mark he left on our industry.”

Lewis is survived by his wife Ginny and his two children, Maddie and Morgan.

“Mark was an exceptional lawyer but more importantly a remarkable husband and father and we send our sincerest condolences to his family,” Vlahos added.

Chris Campbell, director of equity, diversity and inclusion at the Carpenters’ Regional Council, said Lewis will be remembered for his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Among these memories is the first time when members of the Carpenters’ Union officially marched on Yonge Street during the Pride Parade,” recalled Campbell. “Mark was at the front carrying the Carpenters’ Union LGBTQ2 Pride banner.”

He added, “When the construction industry celebrated Black History Month in February, Mark was on stage presenting the cheque from the Carpenters’ Union for the youth scholarship. What made his presentation even more impressive and poignant was Mark also funded this worthy cause by writing a personal cheque that was a family donation.” 

The Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) also expressed condolences to Lewis’s family and friends.

“Our members viewed Mark as a fair and reasonable industry stakeholder, someone who looked for mutually beneficial outcomes to issues and someone who viewed construction with a ‘broader picture’ lens,” said Giovanni Cautillo, president of the OGCA, in an email to the Daily Commercial News. “We join the rest of the construction industry in mourning the loss of someone who was larger than life.”

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela

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Ron Martin Image Ron Martin

Great respect for Mark. Sad passing


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