TORONTO — A lawsuit filed against the City of Toronto by the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) was heard in Ontario Superior Court yesterday (April 20) and was subsequently dismissed.
The suit, supported by the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, stems from Toronto City Council’s June 2019 resolution to add one union, the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), “to a closed list of special status unions given exclusive domain over certain types of municipally funded construction work,” CLAC states in a release. The commitment to enter a Voluntary Recognition Agreement with LIUNA violates the City of Toronto Act and the city’s procurement bylaw and policy, CLAC claims.
The association also expressed concern with the way the decision was made alleging only some councillors were alerted before the motion was put to council and there was the lack of consultation.
As a result of the council decision, CLAC members not eligible to bid on major construction projects in the city.
The resolution was passed the same day as the city decided to opt out of Bill 66, provincial legislation designed to open up the tendering process to all qualified bidders. Toronto was the only Ontario municipality to opt out of the bill, CLAC states.
“We’ve taken on this fight to expose an arrangement that bans good workers and companies from city projects, for no reason we can fathom other than politicking of the worst kind,” alleged Ian DeWaard, CLAC provincial director, in a statement.
DeWaard added the agreements “create discriminatory and exclusive conditions that are unfair to workers, small companies, and diverse-owned companies, and that are incredibly costly for taxpayers.”
LIUNA had status as an intervenor and defended the city’s decision.
“We opposed CLAC’s application as being without merit and supported the city’s decision to remain a ‘construction employer’ and voluntarily recognize LIUNA along with all the other Building Trades it agreed to continue to recognize,” said Sean McFarling, general counsel for LIUNA, in an email to the Daily Commercial News.
“The City of Toronto agreed to enter into a Voluntary Recognition Agreement to be bound to LIUNA’s provincial ICI Collective Agreement. This is the same collective bargaining arrangement it has with almost all of the other building trades in Toronto. Effectively, it means that the city will ensure that construction work covered by our ICI agreement is performed by contractors bound to our agreement.”
The City of Toronto declined to comment on the matter.
The Daily Commercial News will have more on the decision that was reached in court in an upcoming article.