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NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Launches Site C Poster Campaign in Fort St. John

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C.: Just hours after the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed two anti-Site C cases and just hours before the B.C. Liberal government is expected to fall, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) launched a poster campaign in Fort St. John to demonstrate public support for the Site C dam project, the more than 2,200 people employed there, and the clean energy it will produce for decades.

ICBA’s pro-Site C poster makes up the front page of today’s Alaska Highway News and was delivered to nearly 12,000 homes and businesses in and around Fort St. John. ICBA president Chris Gardner and regional vice president Mike Davis are in Fort St. John today to launch the campaign.

“B.C. is staring down the prospect of an NDP government and their politics of saying no to responsible resource development projects like Site C,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “Unfortunately, it will be workers, local suppliers, and families in towns like Fort St. John that bear the brunt of the NDP’s poor decisions.”

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. It followed up with a plane towing a banner stating “BC Needs Site C Jobs” around the B.C. Legislature during the Throne Speech on June 22.

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 two weeks of the campaign, more than 2,000 people have sent an email supporting Site C.

“The people who live closest to Site C voted overwhelmingly for the BC Liberals and their agenda of supporting a strong construction sector in B.C.,” said Davis. “Now we have two politicians – John Horgan and Andrew Weaver – who live 1,282 km away ready to fire thousands of Site C workers. It’s not right, and the public knows it.”

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 B.C. Supreme Court, the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Canada.

Just this morning, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed two appeals to stop the dam project. “After nine judicial reviews upholding Site C, it should come as no surprise that the Supreme Court approves of the consultation, planning and regulatory work done by BC Hydro,” said Gardner. “The forces of ‘no’ have tried everything to stop this project, but it must go forward for B.C.’s future economic and energy needs.”

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

“We are going to keep pleading the case across B.C. for Site C’s workers and the clean energy the dam will produce for generations,” said Gardner. “The 41 NDP and 3 Green MLAs need to be held accountable for the way they demean the men and women in construction when they call Site C jobs ‘temporary’ or ‘part of yesterday’s economy.’ This is a real project and these are real jobs and real families who are helping build our province every day they get up and go to work.”

Download a PDF of the poster HERE.

TRAINING THURSDAY: How To Be A Better Foreman

Becoming a foreman is an important step on the career ladder in the trades; yet too often one is just elevated to the position without any training. The status quo has been “that is how I was treated by my foreman, so that is how I will deal with you.”

There is a better way, and ICBA’s How To Be A Better Foreman course is here to help give you the tools to succeed.

You’ll learn the fundamentals of field leadership, organization, crew morale, efficiency and productivity in this one-day course. You’ll also learn the valuable skill of dealing with workplace conflict without being a jerk, and understand how you play a major role in increasing jobsite productivity. This course has been offered for several years, training over one hundred people; it’s one of our most popular workshops! Here’s what some of our past participants have said:

  • “Well-structured, informative course.”
  • “All of the content was quite relevant. It was a very valuable seminar.”
  • “Covered a lot of different topics.”
  • “Very good course.”

We’re offering the course in Victoria and Burnaby in August; we often fill the course so don’t procrastinate in signing up! For more information on these courses and others, or to register, please visit www.icba.ca/training. And remember, you don’t have to be a member of ICBA to take our courses.

ICBA HISTORY: Remembering the Fights We’ve Won and Pondering the Fights to Come

More than 40 years ago, a group of brave contractor and construction company owners formed ICBA. Leonard Remple was one of them, and today he sent us a note encouraging us to continue our fight for free enterprise in B.C. Here is Len’s letter:

In the early 1970s, B.C. was governed by the NDP and they revised the labour code of B.C. to favour the union movement. This imbalance between employers’ rights and unions’ rights created extreme hardships for private enterprise. An employer had no way of communicating with employees once the employees had been contacted by a union.  If an employer did start a dialogue with employees, a charge of unfair labour practice was the usual consequence. The ramifications of this were serious and expensive to defend. If the employer decided to fight the charge, it would be debated at the Labour Relations Board, but the verdict was predictable because the LRB members were carefully selected for their role by the NDP government.

The labour code of B.C. was not a level playing field, resulting in untold frustration by employers who had almost no legal defence. This, of course, created a boldness by unions. This boldness became interpreted by unions as licence to make demands and if need be, use intimidation. Since intimidation did not always work, the next step was violence. Since these business owners had all their financial net worth invested in the business, it was also an emotional threat when violence erupted.

Whenever confrontations developed, the law enforcement agencies refused to intervene, excusing their non-involvement with the excuse: “We do not get involved in a labour dispute.”

These were the conditions throughout industry in B.C. It meant the entrepreneurs who had staked their life savings in an enterprise were at great risk of losing it all.

Some businesses surrendered to union pressure, but others decided to band together and lobby the government (non-stop) to alter the labour code to a balanced playing field. This banding together to fight for our rights was not for weak-kneed or spineless people. This was a war for the survival of our rights in a democratic country. No one should have the freedom to impede free enterprise. It developed from a firm stand into a CAUSE. That was the birth of ICBA, conceived by a small group of business persons who refused to give up without a struggle. And that was truly what followed: a struggle for survival.

It took a strong determination to withstand the struggle. It took more than determination, it required a strong will, strong emotional stamina and a risk of financial loss. That struggle was akin to a biblical principle (although ICBA was not religiously motivated) which reads, “without a VISION, the people perish”.

A “vision” can be defined as a clear goal, a solid passion, an unbeatable spirit, and an unwavering loyalty to the cause. There was an unstated attitude that prevailed with this small group of ICBA founders: “ALL FOR ONE, AND ONE FOR ALL”.

My admonition, through this letter, is that members do not take the present armistice for granted and become complacent with an attitude of, “those times are past and will never be repeated.”

The open shop concept is a treasure to be protected, fostered, encouraged, expanded and guarded vigilantly. Remember always: those who oppose the open shop concept will never genuinely accept it as a permanent part of our economy. The open shop concept is a constant gift to labour and therefore is a threat to unionization. ICBA must remain on guard and avoid the danger of complacency.

Reflect on a loss of freedom for the federal worker that took place in Canada’s parliament in the week ending June 18, 2017. The Liberal government canceled the secret ballot for voting for or against unionizing. Now all that is required is a card being signed by an employee. Imagine federal elections being handled that way. I can supply stories of how these signatures are frequently obtained. Most of us would find that method too coercive.

I recognize it is difficult to infuse a second-generation passion for a cause that we are now enjoying, but that is exactly my hope for ICBA members.

Be vigilant, NOT COMPLACENT.  What has been gained can be lost at the whim of politicians. Open shop is like the statue of liberty, it is for all persons a benefit.

Sincerely,
Leonard Remple

IN THE NEWS: ICBA’s Chris Gardner on B.C.’s Political Instability

In today’s Journal of Commerce, ICBA President Chris Gardner talks about B.C.’s political instability and its effect on the construction business. Spoiler alert: it’s not good. From the piece:

“Uncertainty still remains,” said Gardner. “It’s a precarious situation, where the B.C. Liberal government is likely to be defeated in a confidence motion.”

The uncertainty about the policies of the new NDP and Green government that will emerge from that non-confidence motion, Gardner said, will be challenging for the business and construction sectors.

Site C, the large-scale hydro project in northeastern B.C., is a concern, he added, since NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver have called for a review of the project.

“Site C has been reviewed by the federal and provincial governments, has been sustained in nine court cases, and billions have been committed to the project. It’s irresponsible at this point to cancel it,” Gardner said.

ICBA has been dogged in its fight to save Site C and the 2,200+ construction jobs there. And it looks like the unions have finally smartened up and joined our battle for Site C. Right after the election, Tom Sigurdson of the union-run BC Building Trades Council threw Site C workers under the NDP bus. From the Globe and Mail:

But because BC Hydro balked at a pact with organized labour on the construction of Site C, he is not going to war with Mr. Horgan over the project. “That project has been problematic since the first shovel was in the ground,” Mr. Sigurdson said.

Fast forward a month to today’s JOC:

Sigurdson also voiced his organization’s support for Site C. “We’ve said there are projects we support; we support Site C and would like to see it continue. It’s one of a number of projects we will be supportive of,” he said.

Welcome to the Site C party, Tom. Feel free to join thousands of other British Columbians and sign an email in support at Get2Yes.icba.ca.

 

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

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.