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NEWS RELEASE: Government Loses Key Court Decision on Union Monopoly

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.

NDP Attorney General loses in court. Again.

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.

PUBLIC POLICY: ICBA Signs On to 46-Member WorkSafeBC Review Submission

ICBA is one of 46 employer associations to sign a single submission to the Workers’ Compensation (WorkSafeBC) System Review.

We believe WorkSafeBC is a well-funded, well-operated and sustainable workers’ compensation system which is “best in class” in meeting the balance called for in the century-old ‘historic compromise’ which traded off a worker’s right to sue in tort for fair wage loss compensation and rehabilitation services. We acknowledge that the system may need some adjustments to benefits, but such change should be consistent with prevailing rates provided in other Canadian jurisdictions and acutely mindful that the system needs to be sustainable.

For our full submission, click HERE.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Trenching and Excavation Safety Workshop

Does your work involve trenching and excavation? If the answer is yes, our Trenching and Excavation Safety Workshop is for you!

Safety should always be a top priority on the job site, and that’s particularly true when it comes to ground disturbance. This workshop walks participants through a comprehensive program that includes what the WorkSafeBC Regulations & Guidelines state, safe work procedures and what to do if something goes wrong.

It covers shoring, benching, sloping and shielding systems. It also includes a section on location of underground utilities and the geotechnical and structural engineered documentation requirements.

By the end of the course you’ll be able to:

  • Identify hazards around trenches and excavations
  • Be able to locate underground utilities
  • Understand soil types, soil collapse patterns, and warning signs
  • Gain familiarity with WorkSafeBC regulations
  • Understand geotechnical and structural engineered documentation
  • Understand sloping and benching
  • Understand shoring and shielding systems
  • Describe and demonstrate where possible safe installation and removal processes
  • Identify emergency procedures for a trench collapse

Plus, you’ll earn 8 CPD Points from BC Housing! Our next session is in Burnaby on July 31, followed by Victoria on August 29, Kelowna September 26, and Prince George October 10. Register for this or any of our other upcoming workshops at www.icba.ca/training.

 

OP-ED: Why Does Vancouver City Council Hate Renters?

By Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association. This piece first ran in The Province on July 8, 2019. 

In the race for worst city council in British Columbia, Victoria gets most of the media buzz.

It’s no wonder why, given Victoria’s debates over such stupid ideas as trying to ding veterans to pay for Remembrance Day, trying to ban the iconic horse-drawn carriages in Beacon Hill Park, cutting important police units to cover John Horgan’s employer health tax, or trying to get rid of poinsettias in city hall because they are somehow a “Christian” symbol. Times Colonist columnist Jack Knox isn’t kidding when he calls Victoria “Dysfunction-by-the-Sea”; this might be the one of the more polite things that town has been called lately.

Yes, Victoria is bad. But there’s another sprinter making up ground in this race to the bottom. Vancouver City Council may yet earn its spot as the province’s worst council. While Victoria’s dumb ideas are splashier, Vancouver’s blunders may have far worse effects long-term.

Last month, Vancouver council voted 7-4 to reject a 21-unit rental townhouse proposal for Granville Street in Shaughnessy. Their arguments to kill this development were preposterous.

Some councillors claimed the townhouses were too tall – but they were only three storeys. That’s very, very gentle density and obviously not a project that will tower over anyone. Others fretted over the excavation for underground parking, because the hole would initially cover the entire site. Does council now prefer people park above ground?

Truthfully, the council was scared off by a neighbouring hospice facility, which drove a number of protestors to the public hearing. The hospice – like every other NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) before it – claimed the rental townhouses would bring such a confluence of noise, traffic and view-killing 3-storey buildings that life in the neighborhood would be rendered unbearable.

So the plan was defeated. Now, the property owners have shifted gears and will build a 12,000 sq. ft. single-family mansion on the site. In a city crying out for affordable housing, Vancouver City Council traded 21 rental units to get a new mansion.

This isn’t the only recent debacle in rental housing. Dan Fumano of the Vancouver Sun reports that of the 20 proposals selected just last year for Vancouver’s affordable rental housing project, six have already withdrawn. More are likely to fall apart in the coming months.

A five-storey, 63-rental unit complex  proposed for Kitsilano is basically the second-coming of the Empire State Building and will crush Kits, if you believe the NIMBYs there.  The same arguments killed 105 Keefer in Chinatown. The word in the protest community is out: if you can get a couple of dozen people yelling and screaming that ‘the end is near’ to a public hearing, councils will fold like cheap suits.

Vancouver City Council has made quite a mess and they have only themselves to blame for it. The nexus between housing affordability and families looking to purchase homes at reasonable prices meets at City Hall and the results do not end well for homebuyers.

The City’s tax and fees on development are ridiculous. Close to 30 per cent of the cost of building a condo in Vancouver is now direct taxes, development cost charges, community amenity charges, and dozens of other fees paid to the city. That’s an unbelievable markup.

Vancouver takes too long to make a decision on these projects. The city council’s erratic handling of proposals is stunning – how did we get to a place where it takes longer to approve and permit a housing project than to build it.

When even the projects the city says it wants – like affordable rental housing – get defeated, it’s no wonder developers are walking away from Vancouver. The most recent provincial budget anticipates housing starts to drop by a third over the next two years, and the Conference Board of Canada now has “negative expectations” for Vancouver housing starts both short- and long-term.

A council attacking poinsettias and horse-drawn carriages is stupid. A council making it impossible to build rental housing is flat-out dangerous.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Construction Project Management

Looking to enhance your skills as a project manager? Check out our Construction Project Management workshop! The next one is July 18-19 in Burnaby, followed by October 17-18 in Kelowna and October 21-22 in Prince George.

Here’s just some of what you’ll be able to do by the end of this two-day session:

  • Understand the importance of project planning
  • Understand the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK 5th Ed)
  • Use the appropriate CCDC/CCA contract and/or Purchase Orders for the project
  • Use risk management tools and mitigate for risk
  • Understand the estimating process
  • Understand the importance of scheduling and use appropriate scheduling tools
  • Understand expectations management and adapt communication accordingly
  • Understand the components of projects – labour, materials and overheads – and use of techniques to maximize job profitability and minimize costs
  • Do post-mortem analysis after project completion
  • Understand the impact and methodology of construction cost control
  • Use of site and office project cost control methods
  • Use Construction Industry Codes to analyse costs vs budget
  • Adapt the project estimate to a project budget
  • Understand how job costing fits within the overall accounting systems
  • Understand Return on Investment (ROI) and how this impacts required project profit margins
  • Understand the contract process from bidding to project close-out
  • Use of job profit forecasting methods to integrate into company forecasting systems
  • Understand the importance of cash flow projections for construction companies

Plus, you’ll earn 32 CPD Points from BC Housing! Register for this or any of our other upcoming courses atwww.icba.ca/courses.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Change Order Management

In this episode, Jordan and Kerry talk change orders – and a new laundry service.
 
Change is inevitable but change orders can be managed! Check out our Change Order Management course in Burnaby on July 17 and October 23 in Prince George.
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.
If you can’t make it on July 17, we will also be offering this course in Burnaby on November 19.

ICBA PARTNER: LodgeLink Offers New Worker Housing Solution

ICBA is proud to partner with LodgeLink, the presenting sponsor of our Breakfast with Rex Murphy series and other events. Looking for accommodation for workers? Check them out at www.lodgelink.com.

Construction companies know that premier accommodations are key for recruiting and retaining top talent, as well as increasing morale and productivity. The B.C. construction marketplace is competitive, and retaining highly-skilled, dependable staff can be a challenge. Especially when you consider that once again in 2019, a little more than half of B.C. construction companies are experiencing more work this year than last, and 45% are hiring new staff. However, a tight labour market may mean that companies could have difficulty in finding the workers they need to scale up their business. Combine that with an added emphasis on work-life balance and the need to find the right accommodations that fit your workforce has become increasingly important. Employers must account for their crews needs as they manage their travel and provide the best experience for all parties involved.

Long gone are the days of spending hours searching various websites, calling different hotels and lodges, and referencing maps to determine what properties work best for your teams. With LodgeLink, you’ll benefit from enhanced search functionality, access to hundreds of hotels and camps on one platform, reduced room rates, mobile capability, and a booking process designed specifically for work crews. Our simplified payment methods and invoicing will reduce headaches at month end, and powerful reporting features will provide you the visibility to manage your entire project.

LodgeLink is an online marketplace that helps workforce travelers find accommodations in the places they operate. With LodgeLink you can get closer to your project worksite, helping keep you and your crew happy and safe. With more than 700 hotels and remote lodges listed throughout Canada and the United States, LodgeLink is the largest database of hotels and lodges under one roof.

LodgeLink is proud to partner with the ICBA to provide a one-stop shop for your crew accommodations needs. You’ll gain access to hundreds of properties online, receive discounted room rates, reduce administrative effort processing multiple vendor invoices, and consolidate all of your travel details in one interface, saving you time and money. We’re here to help, every step of the way.

Check them out at www.lodgelink.com.