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NDP bringing back union-only construction contracts

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ICBA has found a shocking promise buried in the NDP platform released this week – a commitment that can only be read as a return to union-only work on government construction contracts.

They commit to using project agreements for government funded work — which as the media release we put out this morning maps out, really means they want to make these project building trade only.

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For Immediate Release

NDP bringing back union-only construction contracts
Platform promise on project agreements is payback for big labour backers                                                                                                      

(April 26, 2013 – Vancouver) The NDP have finally come clean on plans to push government-funded construction work away from free and open tendering and toward closed, building-trade-union-dominated project agreements, according to their platform released earlier this week.

“It’s clear that the NDP will impose these project agreements and that means provincial construction work – and even municipal infrastructure projects that get provincial funding – will be tilted towards union-only,” ICBA President Philip Hochstein said. “In the construction business, a project agreement is a tool used almost exclusively by the building trade unions to eliminate competition from the more competitive Open Shop sector.”

Project agreements are master deals for the construction of a major project that generally offer the promise of labour peace in exchange for set wage rates and organizing the entire project around building trade union workplace rules. Page 5 of the economic section of the NDP platform commits to “expanding project agreements on publicly funded construction projects.”

“It’s a bit of a stretch to call this an expansion – there hasn’t been a project agreement on a government project since the Island Highway in the 1990s. That deal ended up inflating labour costs on the highway by $73 million,” Hochstein said. “Those runaway costs for taxpayers are why project agreements are avoided by the private sector, which can’t count on taxes to cover the extra costs.”

Hochstein noted that anything the NDP does to push contracts to the union sector will also help fill union coffers with cash.

“I can only see this platform plank as a reward to the B.C. building trades for their ongoing NDP support – and a way to keep that support funded and flowing,” Hochstein said. “The NDP pushes more work to them, there’s an increase in the union dues members will be forced to pay, union campaign war chests will grow, and it will all go to help campaign in support of the NDP. It’s a pretty shady way to treat taxpayer dollars.”

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