VANCOUVER – The NDP Government’s attempt to keep their controversial payback to their union supporters out of BC Supreme Court has failed, and the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) and several other groups will have their case heard by a judge.
Justice Christopher Giaschi ruled today that ICBA and its allies can proceed with our challenge to the legal authority of the Government to impose the “Building Trades Only Requirement” on public construction projects such as the Pattullo Bridge replacement.”
The NDP Government had sought to kick the issue down to the Labour Relations Board (LRB), which the provincial cabinet appoints. But Justice Giaschi said ICBA’s challenge to the exercise of a statutory power (government policy) imposing a building trades union-only requirement on public infrastructure projects, should be heard by the court, not the LRB.
“We’re now full-speed ahead on our legal challenge of this unfair, regressive, union-only monopoly,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “We look forward to making our case against this sweetheart deal the NDP has handed their best supporters. The choice of which union to join, if any, should be made by the workers through a secret ballot, and should not be forced by government.”
Gardner noted the first project under the new union monopoly is already over budget. Earlier this year, the Illecillewaet project near Revelstoke, which will widen Highway 1 to four lanes for two kilometres, was awarded to a building trades union-organized company. The contract came in at $85.2 million – $22.3 million more than originally budget before work even started.
Joining ICBA’s 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. Also participating are the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
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.
“B.C. taxpayers deserve better from this government – not overspending by hundreds of millions of dollars on projects just to thank their union supporters,” said Gardner. “Bidding on government projects should be fair: the best bid should win, no matter how their workforce is organized.”
For more on the challenge, click HERE.
For today’s decision, click HERE.