TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently told a Queen’s Park rally comprised of members of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) that his government will reverse legislation the previous Liberal government had passed in its final days that gave the Carpenters’ Union new bargaining rights in the ICI formwork sector.
Introducing the premier at the Oct. 18 rally, LIUNA vice-president Joseph Mancinelli said LIUNA was there to support a government “that supports you and your families.”
Ford said, “It was a day or two days before the election started, Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals tried to pull a little back-room deal on each and every one of you, she tried to take food off your tables, which she did, they took jobs off each and every one of you.
“We are going to restore that.”
Schedule 14 of Bill 31, the Liberals’ budget implementation bill, removed the ICI formwork exemption protecting LIUNA bargaining agreements that had been in place since 1978.
The Carpenters’ had petitioned the Liberal government asking for a review of the formwork exemption. Two subsequent reports recommended the exemption be removed.
At a press conference held in April, Mancinelli accused the Liberals of favouring the Carpenters’.
Shortly after the bill received royal assent on May 8, the minister of labour sent LIUNA its amended designations.
The effect was that members of LIUNA who were performing carpentry under the formwork agreement in the ICI sector in OLRB Areas 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, 27 and 29 were no longer protected by the previous collective agreement.
The election was called May 9.
In response to Ford’s announcement, the Carpenters’ Union issued a statement saying it “deeply regrets that the premier has decided to reverse a series of well-thought-out and balanced reforms which represented a compromise recommended by two independent labour-relations experts.
“This decision is even more regrettable given that absolutely no consultation with the industry took place before the announcement was made. Contrary to what is being claimed, more than two years of extensive consultations took place, involving all stakeholders, including the Labourers’ Union, before these reforms were put in place.”
Ford told the rally, “When people ask me who I represent, I represent the people, all the people, people like yourself, the hard-working, front-line construction workers right across this great province.
“When we say it’s open for business, it’s open for business for everyone, not just a certain group that gets contracts, but each and every person in Ontario.”
Tony Iannuzzi, executive secretary treasurer of the Carpenters’, accused the Progressive Conservatives of favouritism in the statement.
“The Carpenters’ Union does not believe that it is in anyone’s interests to foster instability and continuing unfairness by playing favourites in an extremely important, dynamic and complex industry,” he said. “We will be consulting with our members and looking at all our options to protect them and our contractors from unfair competition.”