BURNABY – Today’s 336-page Project Labour Agreement (PLA), released by the provincial government, confirms what the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) has been warning about for weeks: The Horgan government has sold out taxpayers to the Building Trades unions that gave the NDP millions.

The PLA drags the B.C. construction industry back to the days when union bosses controlled construction work. Today, 85 per cent of B.C.’s quarter million men and women in construction have chosen not to be affiliated with the NDP’s Building Trades unions, but they will be forced to join those NDP-approved unions and pay them dues and other fees in order to work on taxpayer-funded projects.

“John Horgan has put the interests of his union donors ahead of what’s best for British Columbians, ahead of fairness, ahead of getting good value for tax dollars, and ahead of what individual workers want,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “This 336-page document is just the first sign of the bureaucracy to come, and why PLAs are an outdated model that makes construction more expensive.”

The PLA includes 32 cents per person-hour in payments to unions for various funds, the most shocking of which is a 25 cent per person-hour payment for “union administration.” ICBA believes this will net the unions millions of dollars – plus whatever workers are forced to pay in dues, benefit contributions, pension contributions, initiation fees, training fees and whatever else the Building Trades mandate.

“This union mark-up is why PLAs are so expensive,” said Gardner. “And despite its suffocating bureaucracy, the PLA fails to outline how much workers will be charged in dues, initiation fees and other union cash grabs, how much workers will have to contribute to union pension funds, and whether workers can take those contributions with them when the project is finished.”

The agreement also makes it clear that the Building Trades unions will decide who works on each part of the project – meaning companies will not have complete access to their usual employees, thus jeopardizing the safety, efficiency and productivity that comes with working with trusted colleagues who know each other and their company’s systems.

The PLA stipulates minutiae such as the size of pillows and number of coat hooks in work camps, that they must have access to a movie channel, dictates that electrical workers will need to contribute toward a “library fund for Local 993”, and much, much more.

“All of this bureaucracy drives up costs. John Horgan is effectively sole-sourcing more than $25 billion in taxpayer-funded construction to his friends in the Building Trades unions,” said Gardner. “It’s simply not fair to discriminate against the 85 per cent of construction workers who have specifically rejected old-fashioned, heavy-handed unions. B.C. construction workers deserve better from this government – they deserve choice, fairness and a level playing field.”