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Plumbers and steamfitters on brink of job action

Ian Harvey
Plumbers and steamfitters on brink of job action

The construction sector anxiously awaits for a resolution as 12,000 plumbers and steamfitters threaten to strike to retain their three-day weekends.

Members under the Ontario Pipe Trades Council (OPTC) were voting at the International Centre near Lester B. Pearson International Airport on May 30 on whether to accept the last minute and final contract proffered by the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario (MCAO).

The two sides have been bargaining intensely since February but talks went down to the wire. The final offer was tabled near midnight Monday, May 27 after a hectic week which stretched well into the nights.

The week previously, members of United Association 46 representing Toronto plumbers and steamfitters had been told to collect their personal tools and get ready for a strike call on May 29.

Action was held off as talks continued, however, but by Wednesday the OPTC declared the final offer unacceptable and put it to a vote recommending against it.

At the same time the MCAO gave notice they would ask for the Ministry of Labour to supervise the vote. The longer work week and union hall hiring changes are also the issues which triggered a strike by the sheetmetal workers on May 3.

Results of the OPTC vote are expected overnight and the Daily Commercial News will update this story as new information comes available.

As of this morning the 12,000 members of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry will be making a decision to direct their representatives to go back to bargaining or to call a strike vote.


They may take our lives, but they will never take our Fridays.

— United Association Local 46 member

UA Local 46 Facebook page post


The ripple effect on construction sites across Ontario will be immense with other unions faced with having to cross picket lines or honour them. A strike could cripple the sector already hampered by poor spring weather and heavy flooding, says experts.

Reaction among rank and file has been vociferously supportive of the four-day week and resistant to the 40-hour, five day week MCAO wants.

“They may take our lives,” posted a United Association 46 member on the local’s Facebook page. “But they will never take our Fridays.”

UA 46 member Don Hogan called the four-day week a “gift” fought for and won and handed down by previous generations.

“Brothers and sisters, these negotiations will probably be the toughest ones you will experience in your career,” he posted on Facebook. “You are the guardians and protectors of this gift. It can not be taken away from you as you own it. You must protect it at all costs.”

He called it a day free of the stress of commuting, a day for family bonding and saving on daycare and which a day lowers the carbon footprint.

In addition to the four-day week battle, which has been a long-standing allowance in the contract, OPTC says MCAO also demanded other changes to traditional protocols including name call hiring- bypassing the list at the hall.

Ross Tius, UA Local 663 business manager, chair of the OPTC bargaining committee says the MCAO have refused to budge on their positions.

“These are big changes that would drastically impact our members not just on the work site, but also in their personal and family lives,” he said. “They have taken a hard stand on basic items that would not work out. They will be forcing the first strike by our trades in more than 30 years.”

Recent Comments (9 comments)

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Virve Manniste Image Virve Manniste

UA local 663. UA has no local 633 in Canada.

Vince Versace Image Vince Versace

Thanks Virve,

A bad typo on our part as we were turning over the news to get it online.

Our apologies, it has been updated.

Vince Versace
DCN&JOC National Editor

John deese Image John deese

Y’all fight it brothers, once its gone you will never get it back. Good luck and may god bless everyone of y’all. P.S. it’s time more locals across the globe do the same for better pay and work conditions . Thank y’all for stepping up.

David Freed Image David Freed

Remain union strong, brothers and sisters!

Retired 46 er Image Retired 46 er

We already fought and won this battle, don’t ever give it back!!!

Michael Image Michael

Local 777 plumbers and pipefitters please don’t let them take anything away may God bless you guys and gals with you always

Greetings, in the likely event of the union members taking a job action and then being directed to suspend it on the pretense of local “union leadership ” having been told by the Union UA International Leaders to “stop rocking the boat ” & stop strike or anything slowing down work or we’ll do nothing but lose market share(work), union brothers and union sisters I say just “you remember” that if and when that happens, be the wiser for whatever you decide to do after that.
When they tell you to not strike or stop striking, be bold , be resourceful, be Union! Remember this, you are always worth more than they are ever willing to pay you on your paycheque and that you earned that paycheque and those benefits too, and all those “dues check offs ” that go to the union weekly … You can hold Your heads up! You earned those dues for the union too! Your time off the job is always more valuable than your time on the job will ever be . I wish you well. Your benefits are for your benefit and they bring so much enrichment to your life’s existence and your relationships and your personal attitude (being conscious about that or not ) towards your family and friends both on and off the job. I believe job performance and productive quality work and production output on the job as well are effected by a lot more than just pay. Benefits are negotiated and fought for piece of the construction worker’s values system equation. They have to be or we are just fooling ourselves if we think no.
When here is nothing to live for in the better value system of compared ways of conducting business then we either aren’t paying attention or have given up trying and if not, no one else will have any interest in joining us after awhile anymore. We will not be competitive for quality minded mechanics to join our ranks. Wise mechanics seek out great benefits and good pay to decide where they want to work and give of themselves to mostly be under the directions of others daily for decades while in a heavily physically demanding dangerous work environment .
We are not yet just a characterization of the former union sisters and brothers who did a lot more than just work for somebody to get what we all enjoy today. They stuck together and they sacrificed to get what we enjoy and benefit from today. These benefits are not gifts. You earn them, .so, keep working hard and keep earning them. God Bless & Godspeed. “Be safe” my friends. We are skilled craft labour… and so much more…

Jack Kroskie Image Jack Kroskie

It’s great to see all Ontario UA halls stand together and clearly oppose this offer. They want to divide and conquer which will not happen anymore. The public does not realize the sacrifices we, the UA members, endure in order to offer our services of expertise. There is long hours, limited family life, we have taken concessions on certain projects, personal life, personal health gets put on the shelf, traveling for long periods, physical damage, mental health damage and the list goes on but one of the major losses is time spent with your wife and children. Before you know it you have a new born baby and then they are 9 years old and you ask yourself where did the time go.
Yes some may argue that this is the career path that you chose to take and knew what it involved……true….I’ve also endured an apprenticeship to advance my skill set and deal with all these sacrifices day to day and would like to be paid my worth plus maintain what our forefathers fought for in the beginning….not give it all away so the clients and contractors can enjoy an even bigger piece of the pie! The weekends were fought for many years ago for time with your family and if they need our services on a weekend they will have to pay for our time and skills!

Bill Austin Image Bill Austin

Stand strong in your decision. The choice you make now will affect generations to come. As a member of UA Local 773 in New York, I stand with you.

Bill Image Bill

Yeah Boston brother says hold your ground boys good luck.


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