Plumbers and pipefitters remained on the job Monday (May 9) in Ontario’s ICI sector but unionized carpenters are now on strike after a weekend with no breakthroughs in bargaining.
Meanwhile, unionized operating engineers in the ICI are into their second week off the job and on May 9 were picketing crane firms.
Members of the Carpenters’ union were set to launch their strike one minute after midnight May 9. After members turned down the latest offer by the employers bargaining agency last week, Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario president Mike Yorke stated they would take to the picket line unless progress was made over the weekend. He reported Sunday night there had been no overtures made but that a meeting has been planned for Thursday, May 12.
The pipe trades were set to remain on the job May 9 after Angus Maisonneuve, chair of the Provincial Negotiation Committee with the Ontario Pipe Trades Council, indicated in a May 7 note to members that meetings were scheduled this week and so workers should keep working.
“At this time no job action is required, it’s business as usual,” stated Maisonneuve.
A representative from the employers’ side said the meetings were to be held May 10 and May 11 if necessary.
On May 5 plumber and pipefitters with UA turned down a proposed wage increase averaging 12.5 per cent over three years. Neither the Carpenters’ nor the operating engineers would reveal the terms of the proposed settlements their members had turned down.
Mike Gallagher, business manager with Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, said his team is eager to get back to the table. He was contacted en route to London, Ont. to support operating engineers on picket lines.
If the negotiators for the employers called him right at that moment, Gallagher commented, “and said, Mike, can you come to the airport, we’ve got a new offer for you, I would pull over and I would turn around and I’d get back straight to the airport.”
Wages are a significant issue, Gallagher said, but so are Toronto parking costs, room and board and transportation subsidies.
“These are working men and women who are having trouble with the cost of living,” he said. “It’s not that they dislike their employers, that has nothing to do with anything like that. It’s just that they are feeling real fear about the future.”
The lead negotiator for the operating engineers employer bargaining agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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