The City of Toronto remains the last bastion for the province’s unionized trades working in the municipal ICI sector after votes in Toronto and Hamilton yesterday.
Toronto council voted overwhelmingly to retain its status as a construction employer bound to nine trade unions for ICI work, while Hamilton’s general committee voted 11 to 1 to terminate its city’s status as a construction employer bound to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America for all carpentry work on ICI jobs. Hamilton city council is expected to ratify the decision at the city’s June 26 council meeting.
Hamilton is now poised to provide open bidding on its tenders for ICI projects.
Not only did the Toronto vote preserve the special status of unionized electricians, carpenters, plumbers, painters, glaziers, bricklayers, sheet metal workers, asbestos workers and ironworkers in the ICI sector, but in a surprise development labourers belonging to the Labourers’ International Union of North America were added to the roster.
Toronto council voted 20-4 to maintain the status quo. The action was required by a provision in Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, which rescinded the status of Toronto, Hamilton and a number of other municipal and other public governing bodies as construction employers under the Ontario Labour Relations Act. The entities had three months from April 3, when the bill received royal assent, to opt out of the Bill 66 construction-employer provisions.
Municipal councils for the City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Region of Waterloo had previously voted to become non-construction employers and open up bidding on its ICI projects. As a result, assuming Hamilton council confirms the committee decision taken yesterday, Toronto will have the distinction of being the only construction employer remaining in the province among large public entities.
The Hamilton vote came even though a delegation from the Carpenters’ union proposed a compromise that would have enabled non-unionized contractors to bid on ICI projects with elements of carpentry as long as unionized carpenters were assigned the carpentry work. The so-called “Toronto arrangement” is already in place for City of Toronto ICI work.
The Daily Commercial News is currently working on industry reaction to this story.