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Ontario Carpenters’ reach tentative ICI deal

Don Wall
Ontario Carpenters’ reach tentative ICI deal

The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario (CDCO) has reached a tentative settlement with its employer bargaining agency in the ICI sector, with ratification votes at locals across the province now underway and the deal expected to be sealed by the end of next week.

CDCO president Mike Yorke would not divulge details of the tentative agreement reached on behalf of 20,000 workers in the sector but said he expects his members will be happy with its terms.

“I have no doubt that it will be ratified,” said Yorke. “I think when the members see this, they’ll be overly accepting of it.”

The lead negotiator for the Carpenters Employer Bargaining Agency did not immediately return requests for comment. The Carpenters’ had scheduled strike votes at locals between April 19 and 27 but Yorke said the strike votes taken are now null and void, and new ratification sessions will be held up to May 4.

Negotiations were tense, but that is always the case, Yorke said.

“Bargaining is often, if not always stressful, but I think it was conducted in a professional manner by both sides and even though they’re stressed, they’re still cordial,” he commented. “There’s a lot of mutual respect between our two organizations. Both sides went into it determined to get the best deal.”

Under Ontario collective bargaining legislation, ICI contracts last for three years, expiring April 30 this year. Unionized electrical workers represented by the IBEW settled in February with a three-year wage hike of 8.6 per cent and the Ironworkers signed in late March for 9 per cent over three years with a 0.5 per cent premium for Toronto workers.

ICI rodworkers, painters, tile and terrazzo workers and bricklayers have all reached tentative deals with ratification votes required and it has been learned that the precast sector reached a tentative settlement two weeks ago after just two days of negotiations.

Tony Bombini, president of Tri-Krete Ltd. and lead negotiator for the precast employers bargaining agency, said the deal gave workers raises of $8 over three years calculated by LIUNA to be an average provincial wage increase of 15.1 per cent. Bombini said meetings were scheduled for April 11 and 12 and he went into the sessions thinking they should deal with rates of pay quickly.

The sides were far apart on wages but soon came to an agreement, Bombini said.

“We thought that going forward, anything that would take longer, I think they’re going to settle for more going forward,” he said.

There was extensive language but Bombini said the sides decided to dispense with detailed discussions to save time.

“I think we all said, ‘let’s throw the language in the garbage, just settle,’” he said. “With so many changes that we decided for this time around, just leave it alone.

“We’re all very busy. We’ve got a tremendous amount of work. We certainly didn’t want strikes.”

Sean McFarling, general counsel for the LIUNA Ontario Provincial District Council, stated, “We will be recommending that our members ratify this settlement.”

Meanwhile other sectors are looking to continue bargaining into May, when contracts will have expired for workers employed under the terms of the 2019-2022 deals.

Margaret Taylor, lead for the Demolition Labourers Employer Bargaining Agency, said the problem in her sector is not necessarily a stalemate on terms but rather scheduling meetings at a busy time with LIUNA actively negotiating several deals in ICI and elsewhere.

But Taylor said she is still holding out hope a deal can be reached by the end of the month.

McFarling said the demolition negotiations were at an “impasse” with wages the issue. He acknowledged no new bargaining sessions have been scheduled and noted the union will be in a legal strike position on May 12.

In several cases the employers’ or employees’ bargaining agencies had asked the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development for no-board reports, a strategy taken when there is lack of progress in negotiation. Sixteen days after receipt of such a report, unions can call a strike or employers can impose a lockout.

In other developments:

∙ Sewer and watermain employers had reached a deal with LIUNA but the settlement was voted down by the workers on April 23, sending negotiators back to the bargaining table;

∙ Bargainers for the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) representing ICI roofers are negotiating this week, while SMWIA negotiators representing sheet metal workers will resume bargaining with the contractors association on April 28 and 29. A memo posted on the SMWIA website said the employee bargainers are “optimistic” about reaching a deal but that the sides remain “far apart” on wages and other benefits including cost of living adjustments;

∙ Dave Gardner of the Insulators union reported that progress is going “very slow,” with no proposals yet exchanged and dates scheduled into mid-May; and

∙ The plumbers and pipefitters remain far apart from negotiators for the Mechanical Contractors Association, with wages the main stumbling block. The UA negotiators have received a strike mandate. The next meetings are scheduled for April 29 and 30.

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