July 31, 2012
Carpenters’ union: No strikes or lockouts until 2016
As the deadline looms to sign three-year collective agreements in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) construction industry in Ontario, the Carpenters’ union is using protocol bargaining, which it says guarantees labour peace through 2016.
“Essentially what the protocol does is lay out a timetable for bargaining and the most significant part of it is both parties agreed there will be no job disruptions,” said Ucal Powell, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario.
“The unions have agreed not to go on strike and the employers agreed not to lock us out.”
The three-year ICI collective agreements negotiated province-wide expire April 30, 2013, and Powell said protocol bargaining means there will be no carpenters’ strikes or lockouts until at least 2016 in ICI construction because any unresolved issues in this round will go to arbitration.
The 15 locals of the Carpenters’ Union, which are affiliated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, are using protocol bargaining to negotiate a collective agreement with the employers’ associations. The process is designed to allow both sides to negotiate an agreement well before the current one expires.
Denis Shank, executive director of the Sudbury Construction Association, said there is a master portion, dubbed the “white pages,” of the collective agreement, which applies province-wide. There is also an appendix for each local area.
The employers’ bargaining agents and the Carpenters’ District Council representatives are required to have counter-proposals for the local appendices delivered by Sept. 28, Shank said. Those appendices must be negotiated and complete by Nov. 30.
Then the parties much exchange counter-proposals for the master portion with each other by Dec. 14, with negotiations complete by Feb. 1.
“If we don’t come to an agreement, we have to have them all arbitrated by March 16,” he said. “Issues that are unresolved will go to binding arbitration.”
Powell said both sides have agreed on a number of named arbitrators.
“We need to get away from the adversarial way of bargaining, where bargaining gets dragged out with the threat of strikes,” Powell said.
“I think we’re past that. There will always be demands for a wage increase and reasonable people, I think, can get there without a strike.”
Shank said in the north, construction firms can “bid more aggressively knowing that there won’t be a work disruption.”
Powell said the protocol brings stability to the industry.
“Buyers of construction are usually nervous to start new construction around January into April because they’re not sure what’s going to happen, so we have to compete against non-union,” he said.
“We want to send a message clear out there, as for the Carpenters, that there will be no strikes and the employers are not going to lock us out.”
Under section 153 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act, the Minister of Labour has the power to designate both employee and employer bargaining agencies for the collective agreements.
In addition to the Carpenters, there are currently employer and employee bargaining agents for 25 trades listed at the Ontario Workplace Tribunals library website: Asbestos workers, insulators, boilermakers, bricklayers, cement masons, electricians, elevator constructors, glaziers, ironworkers, labourers, labourers-demolition, labourers-pre-cast, lathers, millwrights, operating engineers, painters, plasterers, plumbers and pipefitters, refrigerator mechanics, rodmen, roofers, sheet metal workers, sprinkler fitters, steeplejack and masonry restoration, Teamsters and tile and terrazzo workers.
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