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TRAINING THURSDAY: Hazard Recognition and Control

Do you know how to recognize hazards in the workplace, and better yet, how to control them? Our Hazard Recognition and Control course on September 13 in Burnaby will give you the required knowledge to understand the principles of hazard recognition and control, as well as the methods used to ensure those hazards are identified and addressed. You’ll also take part in reviewing a number of hazard scenarios and learn how to develop procedures for mitigating the identified hazards.

Here’s what’s covered:

  • The regulatory requirements to identify and assess hazards.
  • Who may do a hazard assessment?
  • How to gather information regarding the hazards of a process?
  • How to conduct interviews with persons familiar with the process being assessed?
  • Developing appropriate conclusions and mitigating factors.
  • Completing the Hazard Assessment Form and develop Safe Work Procedures.

We pride ourselves on our relevant and engaging courses, and this one is no exception. Our instructor, Terry, never fails to impress participants with his knowledge. And, you’ll earn 7.5 Group A CPD Points for this course!

Register for this course or any of our upcoming workshops at www.icba.ca/courses.

Kerkhoff Construction – The Next Generation

On behalf of ICBA, a hearty congratulations to life member Bill Kerkhoff on the news that he is stepping back from his role as President and CEO of Kerkhoff Construction, a family company with a 50-year history and an incredible legacy in B.C. construction.

The company announced earlier this month that Bill will take on a new role as Executive Director, and his son Leonard will step up as the new President and CEO. Leonard has been with the company for 12 years, serving the past five as Vice President and General Manager.

“This is an important milestone for Kerkhoff Construction, one that is grounded in the original values, vision and principles that built this company over the past 50 years.” Bill and Leonard said in a joint statement. “We are looking forward to exciting years ahead.”

It is impossible to overstate how important Bill Kerkhoff and his company have been to the open shop movement in B.C. It was Kerkhoff & Sons Construction that built the first major, open shop public project in B.C. – the courthouse in Kamloops. It was Kerkhoff and his allies at Rempel Bros. Concrete who stared down the angry, vicious trade union mob at the Pennyfarthing project in Vancouver. Kerkhoff built a big chunk of Expo 86 and the SkyTrain bridge to Surrey.

In naming his company business of the year in 1984, B.C. Business said Bill had “unleashed forces that even this mildly spoken 34-year-old probably never suspected existed: forces of venom, hate, physical abuse, admiration, stoicism and bewilderment.” Terming him a “reluctant hero”, the magazine said he was “the most redoubtable warrior with which the union movement has had to contend in modern times.”

We’re excited to see what the future holds for Kerkhoff Construction.

Tales of Prop Rep Horror #6 – “Indonesian Indecency”

Imagine a “democracy” where one-third of voters sell their votes. That’s what happens in prop rep Indonesia.

“Indonesia’s open-list proportional voting system plays a crucial role in explaining the ubiquity of vote buying,” said an expert. The margins between candidates is so slim that even a small bump in vote buying can put people over the top.

Indonesia has tried two forms of prop rep, and both have been prone to vote buying. Under the previous prop rep system, “there were numerous reports of wealthy candidates purchasing winnable slots on party lists by bribing party leaders.”

Prop rep makes party leaders incredibly powerful, because candidates have to curry their favour – and their favour only – to get on the party lists. Any B.C. Prop Rep activist who claims there will be more freedom for legislators under a new system is lying. Real world experience, including in Indonesia, proves otherwise.

Yet another reason to Stop Prop Rep! www.icba.ca/stopproprep

Pass this post on to your friends and family – David Eby’s draconian, anti-free speech rules won’t allow us to advertise it, but individuals can spread it as much as they like. Let’s make sure every British Columbian sees it. 

And stay tuned for more “Tales of Prop Rep Horror”…

Tales of Prop Rep Horror #5 – “Beware the Greeks!”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #4 – “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! NO! NO! NO!”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #3 – “From Russia With Blood”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #2 – “The Pain in Spain”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #1 – “The Puzzle of Brussels”

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Considering Options After Court Decision

VANCOUVER – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) is disappointed that the BC Supreme Court was unwilling to press the pause button on holding the referendum on proportional representation. Earlier today, the Court rejected the application by ICBA for an injunction to postpone the referendum before a ruling is issued on its legal challenge. The Courts rarely, if ever, grant such an injunction, and Justice Gropper made that point clearly in her decision today. We understood this likelihood but given the critical importance of this matter and the very short time frame which the NDP government set for the referendum period we decided to pursue this course of action.

Our challenge was delayed because the NDP government said it was not ready to proceed quickly to defend its rules, its regulations and its process. With all the resources and expertise at the disposal of the Ministry of Justice, it is incredibly hard to understand how the NDP government was not ready to defend the referendum it created on a faster timeline.

“British Columbians could be forgiven for thinking that the Government is playing politics on an issue that goes to the core of our democracy and that it is rigging the process to engineer the outcome that it desires,” stated Chris Gardner, President of the ICBA.

The ICBA continues to wait for the NDP government’s formal response to our legal challenge. When the government files its response, the hearing on ICBA’s legal challenge can proceed. Unfortunately, the delay means British Columbians will not have the benefit of a decision until shortly before the closing of the voting period for the referendum.

“British Columbians deserve better than this,” said Gardner. “Changing the way we elect our government deserves more than passing consideration – it requires a fair and open process with a clear question and a reasonable timeline that allows for a robust debate.”  Read more

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Leads Worker Challenge to NDP Union-Only Hiring Model

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court asking that the NDP government’s new building trades union-only hiring model for taxpayer-funded construction projects be struck down.

“John Horgan is attempting to direct more than $25 billion in taxpayer-funded construction to his donors and supporters in the building trades unions,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “It’s simply not fair to discriminate against the 85 per cent of construction workers who are not part of the old-fashioned hiring hall model where unions control who can work where and when. Construction workers in B.C. deserve better from this government – they deserve choice, fairness and a level playing field.”

Under Horgan’s plan, anyone working on a provincial government construction project will be forced to join one of the Government’s NDP-approved building trades unions, the same unions that have donated millions of dollars to the NDP over the past few elections. Gone will be fair, open and transparent procurement on public infrastructure projects.

“The choice of which union to join, if any, should be made by the workers through a secret ballot, and should not be imposed by government,” stated Gardner. “No matter how a construction company organizes its workforce, in this province every construction company should have the right to bid and win work funded by taxpayers.”

The claim from government that building trades union-only hiring will somehow be the answer to increasing training and job opportunities for young people and indigenous communities couldn’t be further from the truth.

“You don’t train more people in construction by cutting backroom deals with the building trades unions and giving them a monopoly on government projects,” said Gardner. “You train more people by being inclusive, by investing in more training spaces, and by working with the private sector who train workers on construction projects in every community across the province every day.”

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says the union-only model will drive up the cost of the Pattullo project by $100 million. But according to an analysis done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, with the province planning to spend $25.6 billion on infrastructure over the next three years, the building trades union-only hiring model, could cost taxpayers as much as $4.8 billion more in construction costs – nearly $4,000 for every family in the province. “Competition is the best way to keep costs down and reassures the public that government is being fair and transparent, and not just rewarding friends and insiders,” said Gardner.

Joining the petition are organizations that, along with ICBA, represent the 85 per cent of construction workers in B.C. who are not affiliated with the building trades unions: the British Columbia Construction Association; the Vancouver Regional Construction Association; and the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada.

In addition, two progressive unions representing thousands of construction workers in B.C. who are not affiliated with the building trades unions – the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), and Canada West Construction Union (CWCU) – are supporting the legal challenge.

Also participating are the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Five major contractors have also joined the petition: Eagle West Crane & Rigging; Jacob Bros. Construction; LMS Reinforcing Steel Group; Morgan Construction and Environmental; and, Tybo Contracting. Each is representative of the thousands of construction companies across B.C. whose workers are not affiliated with the building trades unions and which will therefore be excluded from working on projects like the $1.4 billion Pattullo Bridge replacement project, unless their workers join one of the NDP government’s approved unions.

Finally, six construction professionals are participating: Forrest Berry; Brendon Froude; David Fuoco; Thomas MacDonald; Dawn Rebelo; and, Richard Williams. Each faces the stark choice of having to join one of the building trades unions to work on government projects, and, by doing so, discontinue receiving benefits and contributions under their current employer plans and be denied bonus and advancement opportunities that building trades unions typically don’t provide.

“It’s just not right that the NDP Government is creating such a high level of angst and uncertainty for the families of the men and women working in construction in B.C.,” said Gardner.

A 336-page Project Labour Agreement (PLA), released by the provincial government a few weeks ago, was negotiated behind closed doors between the building trades unions and the NDP Government. It includes 32 cents per person-hour in payments to unions for various funds, including 25 cents per person-hour payment for “union administration.”

The agreement also makes it clear building trades unions will decide who works on each part of the project – meaning companies will not have 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.

“It really is crazy to imagine that a company will bid a project but will not know which, if any, of its employees will be working on the project – that’s a recipe for bureaucratic inefficiency, delays, increased costs and confusion,” stated Gardner.

The ICBA petition asserts that the building trades union-only hiring model is legally flawed and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

  • Forced unionization is inconsistent with sections 2(b) and 2(d) of the Charter and unlawfully restricts freedom of association;
  • It discriminates against the approximately 85 per cent of the men and women in construction in B.C. who are not members of a building trades union; and,
  • It is unfair and violates the principles of openness and transparency that British Columbians rightly expect when the government seeks contractors for taxpayer-funded work.

“One year ago, John Horgan promised a new way of doing business in B.C. Sadly, John Horgan has put the interests of his union donors and supporters ahead of what’s best for British Columbians. His policy agenda appears to be more about unfair backroom deals, special favors and discrimination aimed at helping NDP supporters and insiders,” stated Gardner.

For the full text of ICBA’s petition, click here.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Back to School, Back to Training!

Summer is coming to a close, back to school sales are in full swing, and soon it will be September. Time to start planning your training for the remainder of the year? We think so!

ICBA offers hundreds of courses per year through BC, from safety courses such as Occupational First Aid Level 1 to managerial training sessions such as Supervisory and Management Skills or Communication Skills. Our training department brings together high-quality information with skilled and knowledgeable instructors to offer courses that are relevant, up to date and interesting.

Among the new workshops this fall are a variety of breakfast sessions in Burnaby, including Cannabis in the Workplace on September 25, and an Overview of CCDC Contract Documents on October 23.

We are also bringing back some of our popular courses, including How To Be A Better Foreman in Burnaby on November 30, and Trenching and Excavation Safety Workshop on September 24 in Victoria and October 24 in Prince George, among many others!

You can check out our full upcoming course calendar at www.icba.ca/courses. Our courses are open to members and non-members, though members receive a discount. More information about ICBA membership can be found at www.icba.ca/become-a-member.

Tales of Prop Rep Horror #5 – “Beware the Greeks!”

B.C. Prop Rep fanatics love to wave away the possibility of extremist, fringe parties every gaining seats in the B.C. Legislature.

But it’s a common occurrence in prop rep countries around the world. Take Greece, for example. The birthplace of democracy now has more than 10% of its parliament controlled by the ultranationalist, neo-Nazi Golden Dawn and the ultraleft Communist Party.

Golden Dawn uses swastikas, the Nazi salute, and such charming campaign slogans as, “So we can rid this land of filth.” They generally collect 6 or 7 per cent of the Greek vote, translating into 17-21 seats in the Hellenic Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party (also known as KKE), gets 5 to 8 per cent of the vote, and 11 to 26 seats. It has even managed to finagle its way into governing coalitions twice.

Prop rep offers no protection against extreme, fringe parties. Let’s not make the mistake Greece has.

Yet another reason to Stop Prop Rep! www.icba.ca/stopproprep

Pass this post on to your friends and family – David Eby’s draconian, anti-free speech rules won’t allow us to advertise it, but individuals can spread it as much as they like. Let’s make sure every British Columbian sees it.

And stay tuned for more “Tales of Prop Rep Horror”…

Tales of Prop Rep Horror #4 – “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! NO! NO! NO!”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #3 – “From Russia With Blood”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #2 – “The Pain in Spain”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #1 – “The Puzzle of Brussels”

GUEST PIECE: A Construction Cost Consultant Looks at John Horgan’s Out-of-Date Labour Deal

By Denis Walsh, who has practiced construction cost consulting for more than 40 years.

The NDP-Union plan to ‘prioritize local hirings’, ‘other hiring mandates’ and ‘have more opportunity for apprenticeship training’ will add significantly to project costs: productivity down/costs up. They have imposed a new engineering discipline on infrastructure projects: ‘social engineering’.

The ‘Community benefit agreement’ for the Pattullo Bridge and other projects will come with a big price tag. The amount will depend on the implementation by the bureaucratic administrators. Contractors are currently suffering from ‘regulation burn-out’ as a result of the overwhelming burden of regulations from all levels of government. It has increased relentlessly over the past twenty years with a corresponding increase in construction cost. This new set of regulations is Trumpian in its audacity. The cost increase will match the audaciousness of the regulations.

The Island Highway model of the ’90s has long ago reached its ‘best before’ date. It is incompatible with the modern construction industry. Contractors are now comprised of teams of highly qualified professionals. The increase of specialization has resulted in an ever larger number of subcontractors and suppliers. It is now an industry dominated by small business. They are not receptive to government interference that increases their costs and paperwork especially after last year’s battle with the Federal Government against its tax changes.

General Contractors operate both as professional consultants and construction managers. Few have large workforces hired directly. Subcontracting is standard practice. General Contractors are increasingly brought on board at the design stage as part of the project team. Their fees are often negotiated and they manage bids from subcontractors and suppliers on behalf of the owner. Your approach to bids is not applicable to many specialized projects that demand input from Contractors from the conceptual stage of a project.

This contractor expertise is in high demand and very mobile both nationally and to the US. It could result in reverse discrimination: non-union contractors and their highly qualified staff may boycott your projects. The flight of this expertise from BC could be an unintended consequence.

Contractors and subcontractors maintain their own teams and work crews on a permanent basis. Hiring is done online, through personnel agencies or, for the larger firms, their own human resources department. The modern tradesperson is educated, with specialist training and is computer literate. The use of mobile devices on construction sites is now widespread. Also, specialist crews service more than one site. Transition between union and non-union sites would complicate this process.

The Horgan government intends to insert itself between the contractor and his workforce. The government will set wage rates and severely restrict the make-up of the workforce. This is gross interference in the construction process and will seriously damage it. Horgan will have partly removed cost competition from the labour component of projects. The cost consequences of this non-competitive element will only be known after the fact. Only a government with an endless supply of taxpayer dollars would even contemplate it. It could also put the quality and safety of the end product at risk while transferring the legal liability to the government.

Taking the above into account, I would caution that John Horgan’s labour model is out of sync with the realities of the modern construction industry. It may not be workable. The industry has changed a lot in the past 25 years. The term ‘hiring hall’ is now an anachronism.

Timing is a crucial factor in the construction market. Construction prices have spiked in the past year. The industry is busy. This reality will complicate the implementation of this new policy. My current public sector clients are having difficulty finding quality contractors and subcontractors to build their projects at a reasonable cost. This policy, in the current construction market climate, will make their job harder and blow their budgets out of the water.

For major infrastructure projects such as the Pattullo Bridge, innovative project delivery methods such as public/private partnerships can produce huge cost and schedule savings. The potential savings would enable you to do more with your capital funds. The trend in the industry has been to transfer cost risk from the government to the Private Sector with a resultant cost saving. This policy would reverse that trend and return risk and cost back to the government and the taxpayer.

Even for smaller projects such as schools, exploring different project delivery methods is now common because a ‘one-size fits all’ approach is considered ‘old thinking’. School districts have to maximize what they buy for their construction dollar. This policy would box them in and force them to pay more and get less.

Regarding Horgan’s ‘union-only’ plan: as a general guide, anytime a client restricts supply, the price increases. The government’s new restrictions go way beyond ‘union-only’: they almost nationalize the workforce. This will have a huge negative impact on construction cost: inflexibility = higher cost is an established fact in the industry.

For the potential cost impact, I can only give you my ‘gut feeling’ based on my experience with similar policies in the 90ies. I suggest that you plan for an increase of 10% to 20% on all projects affected by this policy. The actual increase will vary on a project by project basis.. For the Pattullo Bridge, I suggest that you pencil in an increased budget – say a range of $1.5 to $2 billion for now based on the assumption that the old budget of $1.4 billion was doable under the old rules – often a rash assumption with high-profile public projects.

Implementation will be important. If poorly implemented, this could result in high volatility in bid prices. Poor bid responses for the affected projects could result in project delays, re-bidding and even mothballing of much needed projects.

Over a three year period, this policy, depending on the scope and implementation, could absorb one to three billion dollars of the government’s capital funds. There is a high risk that this amount could increase dramatically due to current heated market conditions, poor implementation or a negative response from non-union contractors. It is a policy with a very high cost risk.

Taxpayers will have to open the funding floodgates and pour extra money into these projects or the system will seize up. Those involved in maintaining capital budgets are in for some sleepless nights: it will make every project to which it applies instantly over budget and they will not have a clue how to arrive at the right budget because it is a new and untried policy for most contractors. This is how the construction market works: new and untested = uncertainty = higher cost risk = higher bid prices.

The cost of these projects will not be based on competitive market prices as the term is commonly understood in the construction industry. It will be ‘Fake Competition’. The defenestration of this mainstay of cost management could have unintended cost consequences: out-of-control costs could be in the cards. Since contractors base their estimates on historical data of their work crews’ productivity on previous projects, this unknowable new system will result in a: ‘roulette wheel’ method of estimating’.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Change Order Management

Changes are inevitable. Changes at home, changes at work… Changes in construction! But change orders can be managed, and our Change Order Management course on September 7 in Burnaby is here to help.

Unnecessary project disruptions, cost increases and schedule delays can result from change orders not being managed well. This course will provide participants with best practices for successfully navigating this complex project management challenge.

Here are just a few things that participants will learn:

  • How to identify changes from the original contract
  • How to document the changes
  • How to price changes fairly and realistically
  • How to present and negotiate changes collaboratively
  • How to understand the importance of early detection of change orders
  • How to negotiate delay claims caused by changes
  • How to understand the wording within commonly used contracts eg., CCDC 2 and CCA 1
  • How to develop a change order process for a construction company
  • How to issue a notice of dispute
  • How to proactively negotiating fair time and material rates at the bidding stage of a project.

You’ll earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7.5 Group A CPD Points at this course! For more information and to register, visit www.icba.ca/courses.

While you’re there, check out our upcoming Bluebeam Revu courses in Burnaby next week. We’re starting with Bluebeam Revu Basics on August 22, followed by Document Control with Bluebeam Revu on August 23! You’ll learn BC Housing CPD Points and Gold Seal Credits for both, so don’t miss your chance to register!

Tales of Prop Rep Horror #4 – “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! NO! NO! NO!”

Prop rep Australia is a revolving door of governments and prime ministers. Five Prime Ministers in 11 years – with none making it to an election before being ousted by the coalitions they tried to form.

This is the great lie of the B.C. prop rep supporters: that somehow their system will magically render good, consensus-led governments. The opposite is true.

Australia is “a soap opera of political intrigue, with leaders nervously eyeing caucus rivals keen on mounting a challenge.” It took more than a week of backroom deals to sort out who won the 2016 election.

“Australian legislators have developed a taste for knifing rivals that would impress Roman emperors. Proportional representation inspires such feelings, given how a smattering of seats can nonetheless deliver great influence.”

Let’s keep this prop rep blunder down under – and not make the same mistake here in B.C.

Yet another reason to Stop Prop Rep! www.icba.ca/stopproprep

Pass this post on to your friends and family – David Eby’s draconian, anti-free speech rules won’t allow us to advertise it, but individuals can spread it as much as they like. Let’s make sure every British Columbian sees it.

And stay tuned for more “Tales of Prop Rep Horror”…

Tales of Prop Rep Horror #3 – “From Russia With Blood”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #2 – “The Pain in Spain”
Tales of Prop Rep Horror #1 – “The Puzzle of Brussels”