BURNABY – In a cynical effort to pay back his Building Trades union supporters and donors, Premier John Horgan is reviving an obsolete, expensive, highly bureaucratic way of building the Pattullo Bridge and other vital infrastructure, said the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) today.

“All anyone wants is a fair shot at work, but John Horgan has tilted the playing field to favour the 15% of the workforce represented by the Building Trades unions that have given his NDP Government millions of dollars in political donations and support,” said Chris Gardner, president of ICBA. “Today’s announcement was long on cost for taxpayers but short on details from government. Procurement should be open, fair and transparent – not a payoff for political favours.”

Horgan’s model is built on the 1990s Vancouver Island Highway project, which saw workers forced to join unions, get hired through union hiring halls and pay union dues. This drove up labour costs by 40%, according to a study done for the Vancouver Board of Trade at the time.

“This is the failed Island Highway model all over again – but even worse, as Horgan fails to understand that 85% of the industry is not affiliated with his union supporters,” said Gardner. “With nearly $30 billion in government construction projects planned over the next three years, project delays and overpaying by creating a union monopoly will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.”

The B.C. Government has delayed the Pattullo Bridge project for almost a year, simply to make this deal with the Building Trades unions. “It’s disappointing to see such a vital project used as a political football by the NDP,” said Gardner. “The new Pattullo would already be under way if it wasn’t about paying back political favours.”

ICBA is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in British Columbia, with more than 1,200 men and women going through the certification process.

“Fair, transparent and open bidding should be a cornerstone value in a democracy like B.C. Whether you are union or open shop, you should have a fair shot at work put out by government,” said Gardner. “Unfortunately, this changed today, and ICBA is committed to fighting tooth and nail to ensure that fairness and transparency prevail when government projects are tendered.”

For a backgrounder outlining ICBA concerns about Horgan’s project labour agreements, click HERE.