VANCOUVER – A recent legal appeal by a coalition of construction associations is being met with skepticism by one of British Columbia’s labour leaders.
BC Building Trades executive director Andrew Mercier said the appeal is “just part of the public relations strategy of CLAC, the ICBA, the PCA and their friends.”
The coalition is asking the B.C. Court of Appeal to reverse a lower court decision that referred part of their case on the government’s labour rules infringing on the charter rights of workers through the use of community benefits agreements (CBA) to the Labour Relations Board (LRB) and hear the case at B.C. Supreme Court.
“When this case went before the Supreme Court of B.C., it took just four hours for the court to dismiss their arguments,” Mercier said.
Mercier also disputed the idea that projects using a CBA framework go over budget any more than non-union work.
“Community Benefits Agreements ensure that projects can be delivered in a cost-effective manner that creates opportunities for local hire and apprenticeships. The last major project built by the BC Building Trades in this province was the John Hart Dam — which was built on time and on budget,” Mercier said.
Mercier pointed to several B.C. projects built under the open-shop model that went over budget, including the B.C. portion of the Evergreen Line, the South Fraser Perimeter Road, the Vancouver Convention Centre and the still under construction Site C hydroelectric project.
“Not only did projects go over budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, they failed to move the dial on opportunities for underrepresented groups to build B.C. On the contrary, a CBA prioritizes hiring for local residents, Indigenous workers, tradeswomen and apprentices, and leaves a legacy of training and experience that will serve B.C. long past the conclusion of any project,” Mercier said.
The B.C. Court of Appeal is reviewing the case today.