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ICI Carpenters strike vote looms, bricklayers reach tentative deal

Don Wall
ICI Carpenters strike vote looms, bricklayers reach tentative deal

It’s crunch time in Ontario’s unionized ICI sector with indications given that some sectoral contract negotiations are not going smoothly less than two weeks before contracts expire.

While progress has been reported in bargaining between the Bricklayers and their employer negotiating agency, the Carpenters will be holding strike votes at locals across the province starting April 19 over a period of eight days.

Under Ontario law, contracts in the unionized ICI sector expire on April 30.

Carpenters’ Union executive Mark Lewis has confirmed that members will be voting in Toronto and Cambridge on April 19, then across the province extending to April 27 votes in Kincardine, Sarnia and Hamilton. The employer bargaining agency could not be reached for comment.

Unionized plumbers, pipefitters and welders with UA in Ontario’s ICI sector voted 97 per cent to support a strike mandate on April 12. The next scheduled bargaining session in the sector was said to be April 19.

Electrical workers and their employers were the first to reach a deal, with an 8.6 per cent wage increase over three years negotiated with a possible escalator clause included.

The Ironworkers subsequently reached a deal with their employers, achieving a nine-per-cent wage hike over three years across the province with Toronto workers given an additional 0.5 per cent wage premium.

Tony Di Maria, an executive with the Brick and Allied Craft Union of Canada, negotiating for the Bricklayers Employee Bargaining Agency, has reported the Bricklayers have reached a tentative agreement with their employers with ratification to take place over the next two weeks. He would not announce details of the tentative deal other than to say the wage figures were close to those the Ironworkers received.

“There was nothing tense,” Di Maria said of the bargaining sessions. “There was nothing about walking away. It was just going back and forth. A lot of our stuff is just about hiring more people, more apprentices…preparing ourselves for tomorrow.”

A representative of the Bricklayers Employer Bargaining Agency did not return a request for comment.

Next up for Di Maria is negotiations on a deal for tile and terrazzo workers, with a session scheduled for April 19.

“There is nothing that is going to hold us up,” Di Maria commented.

His counterpart, David St. Louis, a chief negotiator for the Tile and Terrazzo Employer Bargaining Agency, also expressed optimism.

“We have not had any real issues in contention,” said St. Louis, noting there have been some language issues but the focus will be on wages. “We will more than likely be able to conclude bargaining with a settlement.”

Patricia Penney-Rouzes, a negotiator for the Association of Millwrighting Contractors of Ontario, commented on the uncertainty across the broader ICI sector as the end of the month approaches. She had no comment on the millwright sessions other than to say, “Things are progressing much better with our group than it appears to be in other sectors.”

David Gardner, a negotiator with the Insulators Employee Bargaining Agency, reported the Insulators and the employer bargaining agency will continue to meet this week with the sides not close at this time.

“Negotiations are still progressing slowly for the Insulators,” said the executive with Local 95 of the Insulators and Asbestos Workers. “We have not discussed money.”

Bargaining will continue this week for the sprinkler fitters as well. John Galt, president of the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association, which negotiates a national deal, said the employers and employees have resolved most language issues and are turning to wages.

Negotiators for the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) and the Sheet Metal Negotiating Committee are expected to meet early this week to discuss a sheet metal deal with the employee representatives stating they are “prepared to continue negotiating every day until we have a tentative agreement that we can recommend to our members.”

Representatives for the roofers, also represented by the SMWIA, reported that negotiations went well April 6 and 7 with the next sessions scheduled for April 25 and 26. The union and the employers have entered into an agreement that allows for bargaining to continue past April 30 if necessary.

“There is still much work that needs to be done on both sides,” stated a website post from the employee negotiators.

The first round of negotiations between LIUNA and the Ontario Association of Demolition Contractors (OADC) was able to address the majority of issues on the table, reported OADC executive director Margaret Taylor.

“At this time we feel positive that we will negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement on behalf of our members in the near future. It’s just a matter of time, communication and further discussion with our labour partners,” stated Taylor.

 

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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