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Labourers, boilermakers reach ICI deals

Don Wall
Labourers, boilermakers reach ICI deals

Two more deals have been ratified in Ontario’s ICI sector including a trendsetting one, LIUNA’s provincial agreement for labourers, meaning only 10 of 25 trades remain without three-year contracts.

It was reported June 6 that the boilermakers and the labourers have ratified, paving the way for another round of trades who tend to follow LIUNA’s lead in bargaining.

Wayne Peterson, executive director of the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario, said the Labourers’ deal was a milestone for the bargaining cycle.

“That will help a couple of the others settle,” said Peterson.

“They wait for the Carpenters’ and the Labourers’, then the cement masons will fall in line and so will the Teamsters.”

The next important “shoe to drop” will be sheet metal, said Peterson, with a tentative deal reached and ratification to be sought next week.

The labourers earned wage hikes of 10 to 12 per cent over three years depending on the region of the province. No other details were revealed by either side. A proposed first deal had been rejected by LIUNA members.

No details have been issued on the boilermakers’ deal.

Three-year deals in ICI expired April 30. Trades still bargaining, or waiting for tentative deals to be ratified, are the cement masons, glaziers, insulators, painters, refrigeration, rodworkers, roofers, sheet metal, sprinkler fitters and teamsters.

“I think within two weeks my opinion is that everybody will be settled,” said Peterson. “It remains to be seen. This round of negotiations is certainly not like anything that I’ve participated in over 50 years.”

There has never been a year in which the “conversion rate” of deals to be ratified has been so low, Andrew Pariser, vice-president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario, commented recently, and Peterson said he agreed. A number of proposed deals reached by employer and employee bargaining agencies, and recommended by the employee negotiators, have been rejected by the membership, sending the negotiators back to the table seeking higher wage settlements.

The reasons will be analyzed once the negotiation season is over, said Peterson.

Negotiators for the sheet metal workers urged ratification of an improved tentative agreement reached June 4. Tentative wages would rise $8.15 per hour over three years for most of the province, with Toronto, Barrie and Peterborough to get a three-year hike of $9.50 per hour. The workers would also get raises in travel and room and board allowances.

Sheet metal ratification votes were to be held between June 5 and June 13.

The Sheet Metal Workers International Association is also negotiating for roofers in the ICI. No progress in negotiations was reported on the sheet metal website and the negotiators had asked the minister of labour for a no-board report, paving the way for a possible strike later in June if no deal has been reached.

Details of the millwrights’ deal have been released, with the workers obtaining a 9.25 per cent raise over three years and a hike in travel and board of 9.75 per cent.

Negotiations went smoothly in comparison to many of the other trades, said Patricia Penney-Rouzes, executive director of the Association of Millwrighting Contractors of Ontario.

“In our case, both sides took the time to understand the ‘why’ and not just the ‘want,’” she explained. “And even though we may not have been able to achieve everything we both wanted, in the end, we left with a much better understanding of why that item was important to the other side.”

The understanding will lead the parties to positions of mutual support said Penney-Rouzes. 

“These are very challenging times with the current inflation and high cost of living. We must ensure that any changes we may make today are still sustainable tomorrow.”

Peterson said one set of negotiations showing little progress involves the insulators and their employers.

Dave Gardner, negotiator on behalf of the Insulators and Asbestos Workers union, said he is hoping the bargainers will sit down and resume negotiations. The Insulators have requested and been given a no-board report but no strike vote has taken place.

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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