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IN THE NEWS: FSJ’s Future on the Line with Site C

Stu McNish of Conversations That Matter was in Fort St. John this week to talk to people about the consequences of delaying or scrapping the Site C Dam. It’s a must-watch: these are real people, real jobs, and the lack of support from Horgan-Weaver will have real ramifications.

ICBA Communications Director Jordan Bateman has a couple of clips in the preamble, but the real power is in the stories and conversations that follow.

Watch it HERE.

ICBA TRAINING THURSDAY: Leading a High-Performance Team

We’re baaaack! Our Director of Training has been busily adding new courses to our training calendar, and we’re pleased to announce a great-new one! Do you want to lead a high-performance team? If your answer is yes, we have just the course for you.

Close-up of business team hands over papers during discussion of a new project
Close-up of business team hands over papers during discussion of a new project

Our first Leading a High-Performance Team course takes place in Burnaby on July 21.  This course is based on proven, powerful and practical strategies and techniques that will greatly improve your ability to communicate, motivate, engage and empower your team. You will be able to apply these techniques the next day and your newly learned skills will last a lifetime.

Among the things you’ll learn are the defining characteristics of a highly effective team, the most common team pitfalls, how to avoid them, and how to create and sustain a high-performance team culture.

We’re also bringing this course to Victoria and Kelowna in October. You don’t have to be a member of ICBA to take our courses! For more information on these courses and to register, please visit www.icba.ca/training. You’ll save on registration if you register before July 7; don’t miss out!

ICBA NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Takes Flight to Support Site C Workers

VICTORIA, B.C.: With 2,252 jobs hanging in the balance, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) took flight at the Throne Speech today. A plane towing a banner saying, “BC NEEDS SITE C JOBS” flew around the B.C. Legislature from 12:15 to 2:45 p.m. as the Throne Speech ceremonies took place below.

“It’s important that we take every opportunity to remind the 41 NDP and 3 Green MLAs who may form government in a few weeks, that 2,252 real people went to work at the Site C dam site this morning,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “While those construction workers are building our clean energy future, their jobs are being threatened by John Horgan and Andrew Weaver’s commitment to cancel for the project.”

ICBA launched its #Get2Yes on Site C campaign with a media event at BC Hydro’s Vancouver headquarters on June 8, using 2,252 Site C pink slips to illustrate how many people work on the Peace River dam site and who are risk of being fired.

ICBA is encouraging people who support clean energy jobs to visit Get2Yes.icba.ca and send an email to B.C.’s three party leaders. In the first week of the campaign, nearly 2,000 people have sent an email supporting Site C.

“Our Site C pink slip campaign has captured a lot of attention – one post was shared nearly 3,500 times on Facebook, with a quarter million people seeing it,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA Communications Director. “With $4 billion already spent and committed, the people of B.C. see the value in allowing thousands of construction workers to finish Site C – it would be irresponsible to do otherwise.”

Site C was more than a decade in the planning, has undergone extensive environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, and was signed off by both the federal and provincial governments. Both the process and project have been upheld in nine different judicial reviews in the BC Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Canada.

ICBA is concerned that the message the NDP and the Green MLAs are sending is that even if a project is approved in B.C. and even if you are more than 20% complete, it doesn’t matter, the government can still change its mind and cancel a project. “John Horgan and Andrew Weaver will ruin B.C.’s reputation as a good place to invest, putting us on a level no different than third world countries where assets are seized and projects are cancelled on a whim,” said Gardner.

In the coming weeks, ICBA will hold more #Get2Yes on Site C campaign events in Victoria and Fort St. John.

“We’re going to keep fighting for the men and women working on Site C and other construction projects around B.C.,” said Gardner. “These jobs put food on the table for many families and they deserve the support of the NDP-Green MLAs.”

Watch the takeoff here:

OP/ED – Horgan and NDP Fighting to Strip Workers of Secret Ballot

By Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

Andrew Weaver’s story is similar to a lot of workers in B.C.

“I know from first-hand experience that in any union certification drive there are those people who feel pressured to sign [a union card],” the B.C. Green Party leader told The Vancouver Sun this week, “but they want the opportunity to have a secret ballot.”

Of course they do. After all, there is nothing more fundamental to our democracy than the secret ballot.

Whether it’s when we elect governments or strata councils or association boards, we rely on the secret ballot to provide assurance that the voting process is free from manipulation by one side or the other. Working men and women deserve no less when they are deciding whether or not to join a union.

Yet the soon-to-come NDP government is committed to stripping workers of that democratic right.

In recent weeks, John Horgan has been doing a victory lap of sorts, meeting with the big unions who funded his campaign and outlining his plans for a frightening new era in labour relations after he takes power.

While the news may be good for the NDP and its union donors, it’s bad for everyone working in small businesses across our province. All British Columbians should be concerned about the impending attack on the democratic rights of workers and fairness in the workplace. It is an issue that will impact small businesses in every sector of our economy – construction, hotels, restaurants, and other retail operations.

The first salvo is Horgan’s commitment to remove the right of workers to use a secret ballot when deciding to join, switch or leave a union. This has been the law in B.C. since 2001 – it ensures that neither employers nor unions are able to coerce or intimidate workers. Certification votes are fair and supervised by a neutral party, the Labour Relations Board.

Horgan’s preferred alternative is to have union organizers walking around workplaces, showing up on doorsteps, or following workers to their kid’s events, or to the store, or wherever else they can corner them – whatever it takes to get them to sign a union card. This process is rife with abuse and more than a few arms are twisted. It’s backroom politics at its worst and it goes against every principle of openness and transparency that should define workplaces across the province.

The decision to support a unionization drive is a deeply personal one and not one the vast majority of workers want to make while a union organizer is standing over his or her desk, when surrounded by colleagues watching to see if they sign a union card, or when a union card is put in front of you when you are at home.

It was encouraging to see Weaver break ranks from his NDP partners to state unequivocally that he would “never support legislation that will eliminate the secret ballot.” But it’s early days, and Weaver has changed his mind on issues important to B.C. workers before – Site C comes to mind.

However, we are encouraged by Weaver’s principled stand on the secret ballot and hope he will stick to his principles on this one. In an era where the demand for skilled labour is at an all-time high, there is no discernable difference between the wages and benefits paid by union and non-union employers in the construction sector for example. When it comes to safety in the workplace, the same is true.

It is difficult to see Horgan’s view as anything other than payback to big unions for their support of the NDP during the most recent provincial election.

Stripping workers of the secret ballot will only serve to weaken the rights of workers at the expense of big unions and harkens back to an era of smoke-filled back rooms where union bosses dictated the fate of workers trying to do nothing more than make an honest living and support their families.

We have enjoyed relative labour peace in the construction sector in B.C. and it’s disturbing to see the NDP so committed to turning back the clock on labour relations in our province.

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Applauds Weaver for Secret Ballot Stance

BURNABY, B.C. – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) applauded Green Party leader Andrew Weaver following his announcement today that he would not support the NDP’s plan to take the secret ballot away from union certification votes.

For 16 years, the NDP and its union donors have been trying to strip workers of the democratic right to cast a secret ballot, instead pushing for a system where employees have to publicly sign a card approving a union.

“Stripping workers of the secret ballot would weaken the rights of workers to the benefit of big unions – we’ve enjoyed relative labour peace in BC in recent years, so it’s puzzling that the NDP want to turn back the clock on labour relations in this province,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “The current system, using a secret ballot, ensures that neither employers nor unions are able to coerce or intimidate workers. Certification votes are fair and they are supervised by a neutral party, the Labour Relations Board.”

In an interview with The Vancouver Sun, Weaver explained that his preference for a secret ballot was born out of his experience with the University of Victoria faculty association. His comment that, “in any certification drive there are those people who feel pressured to sign a certification drive but they want the opportunity to have a secret ballot,” lines up with the experiences of workers across B.C.

“There is nothing more fundamental to our democracy than the secret ballot. Whether it’s when we elect governments or members to local community associations, we rely on the secret ballot to provide assurance that the process is free from manipulation,” said Gardner. “Working men and women deserve no less when they are deciding whether or not to join a union.”

LETTER: ICBA’s Chris Gardner Requests Standing in BCUC Site C Review

The following letter was sent by ICBA President Chris Gardner to the B.C. Utilities Commission today.

David Morton
Chair and CEO
British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC)
900 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2S9

June 16, 2017

Re:  BCUC Review of the Site C Hydro Electric Dam Project

Dear Mr. Morton:

We write on behalf of the more than 2,000 member companies and clients of ICBA in the construction and responsible resource development industries, including the thousands of men and women who woke up today and went to work to build the Site C Dam.

In the June 16, 2017, edition of The Globe and Mail, you stated that the BCUC is “ready and able” to review the Site C Dam project if such a request were to be made by a new NDP-Green provincial government.

We strongly object to such a review given that construction work is approximately twenty percent complete, that the Site C project was reviewed and approved by the provincial government, reviewed and approved by the federal government, and that the review process has been sustained in nine decisions by the BC Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Canada.

Moreover, the review’s terms of reference, laid out in the NDP-Green coalition agreement, states that Site C will be referred to the BCUC “on the question of economic viability and consequences to British Columbians in the context of the current [emphasis added] supply and demand conditions prevailing in the BC market.” As you are well aware, the decision to invest $9 billion to build Site C was based on the future energy needs and climate change goals of our province.

In addition, the short timeline – six weeks – is another sign of how politicians are attempting to unduly influence this process to deliver the outcome they desire, the cancellation of Site C. Such a rushed timeframe will likely render an incomplete report that will be in stark contrast to the usually comprehensive work of the BCUC. ICBA is concerned that the BCUC risks being placed at the centre of a political debate that is best left to elected officials and the public at large.

However, given the likelihood of this review proceeding, the ICBA requests standing to present to the Commission on behalf of the more than 2,200 men and women working on Site C and British Columbians who strongly support this long-term investment in our clean energy future.

Construction makes up 9 per cent of the provincial economy and employs more than 200,000 British Columbians – their voice deserves to be heard on this important construction and economic issue. We look forward to your response.

Chris Gardner
Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

TRAINING THURSDAY: Meet ICBA’s Apprenticeship Team

Did you know ICBA is the single-biggest sponsor of construction apprentices in B.C., with nearly 1,300?

ICBA prides itself on our incredible customer service, and nowhere is that more evident than in our apprenticeship team.

As part of our training department, our Senior Training & Apprenticeship Coordinator Ally Bodnar and Training & Apprenticeship Coordinator Desiree McGee work hard every day to ensure that apprentices and employers are supported.

“We want to make sure that apprentices have everything they need to successfully complete their apprenticeship,” Ally says, adding that her favourite part of her job is seeing people earn their journeyperson designation and go on to a rewarding career in the construction industry.

The program starts with an employer member contacting ICBA and asking us to sponsor an apprentice for them. We assist with the paperwork involved in setting up that sponsorship, and will then take on the regular tasks involved with reporting hours and certifications to the Industry Training Authority.

“We are a one-stop-shop for everything the apprentices and employers need,” Ally says. “We answer questions, offer a bursary to apprentices and help them get the other grants and bursaries that they are eligible for.”

Desiree is a new addition to our team, joining us earlier this month, but says she’s already enjoying working with apprentices and helping them on their road to certification as a journeyperson. Ally is a five-year veteran of ICBA, starting in reception and making her way to the training department.

Both of them would be happy to talk to you! Interested in learning more about how ICBA helps apprentices? Email us at apprenticeship@icba.ca.

IN THE NEWS: Media Report on ICBA #Get2Yes Site C Event

Our Site C pink slip event got a lot of media coverage yesterday – but don’t forget to send your email supporting the Site C’s 2,252 workers by clicking HERE.

Here’s what Breakfast Television reported:

Or, if you’d like to see what we said translated into Chinese, click here for a Fairchild TV clip.

Some other media hits: