With disruptions in Ontario’s residential construction sector casting a large shadow over building in the province, the unionized ICI sector also entered May in a state of upheaval.
As of May 2 there were six strikes in the residential sector and one in ICI, meaning thousands of workers were off the job.
In residential, LIUNA Local 183 members in the highrise forming, house framing, self-levelling flooring, railing, tile, carpet and hardwood installers have rejected settlements and are now on strike in various parts of Ontario.
In ICI, unionized operating engineers went on strike after they rejected a proposed deal on Sunday, while ICI plumbers and pipefitters were in a legal position to strike the same day.
“All sectors of construction are important, and labour, management and government did a good job working together during the pandemic,” stated Residential Construction Council of Ontario president Richard Lyall, calling for swift resolution to work stoppages. “We are encouraged that a number of collective agreements have been settled.”
Three-year contracts in the ICI sector expired April 30, meaning trades that have not signed new contracts are working under the previous terms – if they are working at all.
Brent Payne, chair of the Ontario Pipe Trades Council steering committee, issued a memo to members April 30 noting, “Meaningful bargaining is ongoing with contractors and your bargaining committee is hopeful of reaching a tentative agreement in the coming days.”
Two days earlier, the message from pipe trades executives appeared less promising with members of UA Local 67 given preliminary instructions on a possible meeting to appoint strike captains and receive strike assignments.
No further details on negotiations were released by either party on May 2 although unconfirmed reports on UA’s Facebook page indicated that a ratification vote would be held May 5.
Meanwhile bargaining was more successful for Ontario’s steeplejacks.
The steeplejacks ratified a new deal April 30 containing a wage hike of 14.7 per cent over three years – 4.3, 5.9 and 4.5 per cent for years one, two and three.
LIUNA Ontario Provincial District Council general counsel Sean McFarling has reported LIUNA members concluded bargaining with the Labourers Employer Bargaining Agency on April 28. The LIUNA negotiators are “neither recommending acceptance or rejection to our members.”
The results of the ratification or strike vote will not be known until the end of this week.
LIUNA’s tentative deal with precast employers is also currently the subject of ratification votes at locals across the province. The precast erectors and their employers reached a tentative deal April 11, with a raise amounting to 15.1 per cent over three years. LIUNA negotiators were recommending ratification.
It was reported that the Hamilton local approved the deal while Toronto workers rejected it.
Anthony Bombini, head negotiator for the precast employers, commented, “First time in history this has ever happened.”
A non-ratification vote would put precast in a strike position, Bombini said.
LIUNA’S McFarling referred to the deal as being in a “holding pattern” as the votes continue.
What follows is an update on ICI bargaining among other trades:
- Electricians and Ironworkers reached deals in February and March respectively. IBEW members earned 8.6 per cent raises over three years with an escalator clause, and Ironworkers got nine per cent over three years with Toronto members given a 0.5 per cent premium.
- Rodworkers have achieved a tentative settlement, said to be nine per cent over three years, with terms to be released upon ratification, expected May 4.
- Bricklayers have reached a deal, no terms to be released until ratification, expected by May 13.
- Carpenters reached a tentative settlement two weeks ago, a deal expected to be ratified this week.
- Teamsters are continuing negotiations, with nothing to report.
- As of last week Insulators had dates set aside for negotiations every week going into mid-May, with slow progress reported.
- Millwrights were continuing negotiations last week with no updates offered.
- Painters, members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, are reported to have reached a tentative deal worth nine per cent over three years. No comment was made on when ratification is expected.
- Bargainers representing the roofing and sheet metal trades are meeting this week with their respective employer bargaining agencies. Mike Mahon, business manager for the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofers’ Conference, said the roofers’ meeting is today (Wednesday) and sheet metal goes to the table on Thursday.
- Sprinkler fitters, members of UA, continue to negotiate a national deal. UA Local 853 business manager Dale Hawrychuk said the parties will meet Tuesday and Wednesday with wages and a few language items still to be negotiated.
- Tile and terrazzo has reached a tentative deal, said to be worth nine per cent over three years. The deal has not yet been ratified.
- There has been minimal update from demolitions bargaining recently. No new meetings had been scheduled last week and LIUNA had no update May 2. LIUNA demolition workers are in a legal strike position on May 12.
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