September 17, 2012
Letter to the Editor
Merit Ontario responds to allegations from Ontario Construction Finishing Industries Alliance
To the Editor:
Re: The August 23 letter to the editor, Ontario Construction Finishing Industries Alliance takes issue with Merit Ontario, Merit Ontario can’t help but ask: Why would a giant construction consortium such as the Construction Finishing Industries Alliance be so concerned about Merit Ontario?
Merit Ontario works to protect and preserve integrity in Ontario construction. For the benefit of all Ontarians, Merit Ontario is determined to protect the open shop and keep Quebec-style construction from taking hold in Ontario. The Merit Ontario movement remains the only reasonable voice and credible stakeholder with the courage to stand up to the union intimidation and anti-competitive initiatives taking hold in our province.
It is quite sad and unfortunate to witness a construction industry stakeholder resort to attacking another stakeholder with claims of “exaggeration and misleading the public.” But that is what we have with Mr. Koller of the Ontario Construction Finishing Industries Alliance in his Aug. 23, Letter to the Editor attack upon Merit Ontario. In our many years in the industry and decades of service on many industry committees’, we have never seen such an unprovoked and unprofessional outburst.
The letter takes issue with Merit’s statement that “74 per cent of construction employers provincially,” are open shop, but fails to mention that the number is directly from the Ontario Construction Secretariat’s (OCS), 2011, ICI Construction Industry Survey. The statistic comes from a survey paid for by many of the union employer members of the Interior Systems Contractors Association that funds the OCS.
The accusation that Merit suggests open shop contracting has a superior safety record is simply twisting the facts. We would never be so presumptuous. All Merit has ever said is that union sector claims of “their” superior safety record is not supported by any empirical evidence and nothing justifies the Building Trades use of the “safety myth” to try and convince public officials to discriminate against the open shop in public tendering.
That Mr. Koller has to hark back to the distant history of the Hogg’s Hollow Disaster in 1960 to perpetuate this myth is sad indeed. All contractors in Ontario, not just the union ones, can take credit for the fact (confirmed by CSAO/WSIB statistics) that Ontario has the best safety record in the country and that injury and fatality frequency has decreased 85 per cent to 90 per cent since then.
Perhaps the most inaccurate and self-serving aspect in the letter is that the opposition to the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) is some sort of Merit, non-union plot against apprenticeship and safety.
In an Aug. 20, DCN article, Clive Thurston of the OGCA (Ontario General Contractors Association) announced his organization was withdrawing support for the OCOT with the quote:
“This is a tightly driven agenda to control labour in this province and, in my opinion, to bring Quebec-style labour here to Ontario, while doing nothing to help us resolve the challenges and issues we have in apprenticeship in attracting people to our industry, to improving the industry and having really good research and evidence upon which to base our decisions.”
We fully agree with Mr. Thurston and fail to understand why Mr. Koller can’t accept that the OGCA represents virtually all the major union and open shop contractors in Ontario who hire the contractors of his employer. The OCOT opposition camp also includes the biggest contractor associations in the province that are affiliated to the Labourers Union in the roadbuilding, sewer and water and residential sectors as well as the union-affiliated Mechanical Contractors Association.
The fact is that Merit Ontario is only one association, among the avalanche of major union contractor associations, which is lining up in opposition to Mr. Koller’s agenda of promoting the Ontario College of Trades.
We are now asking Mr. Koller’s employer to have their spokesperson stick to the facts.
Mr. Phil Besseling, Mr. David McDonald,
Retired Chairs, Merit Open Shop Contractors Association of Ontario (Merit Ontario)
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