The BC Building Trades is launching a campaign to raise public awareness about the importance of unionized construction workers to the province’s future.
The campaign includes a year-long television advertising campaign as well as local newspaper advertising, community presentations, speeches and other steps to reach all corners of B.C., explains executive director Tom Sigurdson, adding the campaign tells British Columbians that everything the BC Building Trades builds gets its seal of approval, meaning it is constructed to the highest standards, with no compromises on safety.
Sigurdson explained that a province-wide opinion survey commissioned by the Building Trades in May showed that 88 per cent of those sampled want B.C. apprentices hired onto construction projects before out-of-province workers are hired.
He adds the survey also showed little public awareness of the Building Trades but strong positive views (61 per cent support) when those surveyed learned about the Trades’ tradition of craft skills, apprenticeships, productivity and commitments to building the province.
"This is an awareness campaign, you don’t see us because when we are finished we are gone," Sigurdson said. "I think it’s important even in the B.C. context. The provincial government is a very large purchaser of construction."
He added that while the Building Trades are not on Site C to the degree they would like to be, he believes it is important for the consumer to know that the unions are out there and trying to promote the best the industry has to offer.
He said it is also important to promote the trades in anticipation of other massive infrastructure projects and LNG proposals.
"We are going to have to skill up the next generation of workers," he said. "Our affiliates and their members are the most experienced and the most highly skilled people in construction, including men, women, First Nations and apprentices."
He said that BC Building Trades affiliates indenture thousands of apprentices every year who have higher completion rates than those who are outside of its training structures.
"This strong preference for B.C. workers and B.C. apprentices first is important for government and industry to appreciate when contracts are bid and work begins," he said. "The Trades also have a strong track record for bringing into the workforce more women, aboriginal people, and new Canadians which reflects the values of British Columbians."