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Ontario Building Trades welcome back LIUNA

Don Wall
Ontario Building Trades welcome back LIUNA
DON WALL — Building Trades business manager Marc Arsenault (left) and Bill Barbosa, assistant busi-ness manager with the LIUNA Ontario Provincial District Council, react with satisfaction after signing a document readmitting the Labourers to the Building Trades.

Ontario’s Provincial Building Trades Council has announced LIUNA has rejoined its ranks after a five-year absence, with leaders from the associations attending a signing ceremony Dec. 6 in north Toronto. 

LIUNA becomes the 14th trade to sign on as a Building Trades affiliate, swelling the ranks of trade union members represented by the council to 150,000.

Bill Barbosa, assistant business manager with the LIUNA Ontario Provincial District Council, represented the labourers at the signing ceremony and gave credit to LIUNA executives Joe Mancinelli, Jack Oliveira and Sean McFarling for their groundwork in returning LIUNA to the council. Building Trades business manager Marc Arsenault signed for the council.

“LIUNA is proud to be back and affiliated with the Provincial Building Trades to work alongside the other affiliated BTU members to collectively advocate for the continued advancement and investment in the skilled trades,” said Barbosa. “Continuous improvement in health and safety, great representation and inclusion will allow us to be prepared given the billions of dollars being invested in all sectors of construction.”

Ontario Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton immediately issued a statement of congratulations: “With $185 billion in infrastructure projects on the horizon, we need all hands on deck to tackle the labour shortage.

“I congratulate Marc Arsenault and Joseph Mancinelli for their leadership and vision to support this mission.”

Arsenault refrained from explaining why LIUNA departed but since the start of the pandemic, he said, the Labourers’ were a value-added component to the weekly executive board meetings set up to manage COVID-19.

As well, LIUNA training experts worked with managers of Building Trades-affiliated training centres on implementing new protocols for physical distancing and health restrictions on jobsites and at training centres.

“That was the catalyst to recognize that we are stronger together,” said Arsenault. “The values, the input, the brainpower and the progressive values worked well as we managed through the COVID pandemic and we look forward to utilizing those resources moving forward.”

Arsenault said the Building Trades are keen to work with LIUNA on other initiatives. Since the summer of 2021, he said, there have been multi-phased rollouts of submissions from Building Trades training directors on collaborations to mitigate skilled labour supply risks. As part of that rollout, the Building Trades have partnered with the leadership at LIUNA training centres.

“That’s where the strength comes from, a unified voice under a single banner that in the construction industry is specific to training,” said Arsenault. “These are the things that we need to do, to hold to a gold standard, a higher regard, the intimate connection between improved training leading to healthier outcomes and safer jobsites for our workers. We are certainly aligned on that.”

Barbosa noted LIUNA received a tragic reminder of the importance striving for health and safety last week with the death of a LIUNA worker on a jobsite in Mississauga.

“Working together, we’re going to be able to keep improving on health and safety on a daily basis,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, that’s what we all care about.”

Arsenault said LIUNA and the Building Trades have also been working on a national prevention strategy, and acknowledged John Mandarino, executive director of the LIUNA Canadian Tri-Fund, as showing leadership on the file.

Arsenault admitted LIUNA and other members of the Building Trades Council may not have similar views of some critical issues such as trades’ scopes of work, policy that is being developed by Skilled Trades Ontario. He said the best way to deal with contentious issues is face to face.

“There is a recognized improved success by doing that versus from the outside,” he said. “We are happy to be welcoming back LIUNA, to have these discussions under that unified voice, under that single banner.”

The Brick and Allied Craft Unions of Canada was announced as the 13th affiliate at the Building Trades’ annual conference in October. Major trade unions remaining unaffiliated include the Operating Engineers and the Carpenters’.

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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