Hundreds of billions worth of construction projects are on the drawing board in B.C. As a result, most construction contractors geared up for even more work this year, despite an already intense pace. This will keep the industry’s GDP and employment contributions growing at the same pace as the provincial economy.
BURNABY—Non-union construction companies sponsor four times as many trades apprentices as unions in British Columbia, according to documents obtained from the provincial government’s Industry Training Authority through a Freedom of Information request.
The documents show that 23,172 of the province’s 28,432 registered construction apprentices – meaning 81.5 per cent of B.C.’s construction apprentices are sponsored by open shop companies, not unions.
“The numbers thoroughly debunk the building trades unions’ myth that only they train construction apprentices,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), which represents more than 2,100 of these open shop companies. “In fact, it’s open shop companies which do the heavy lifting of recruiting, training, equipping and sponsoring trades apprentices in this province.”
While ICBA is proud to be the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in B.C., with more than 1,100 registered, this is just a slice of the more than 23,000 sponsored by non-union companies.
In many trades, the percentage of open shop apprentices is even higher:
- Welders – 96% open shop (777 apprentices); 4% union (29)
- Plumbers – 87% open shop (2,892); 13% union (438)
- Carpenters – 85% open shop (4,437); 15% union (801)
- Electricians – 83% open shop (6,150); 17% union (1,301)
“Over the past 35 years, the building trades unions have lost market share, lost any wage and benefit advantage they used to have, and alienated generations of B.C. construction workers,” said Gardner. “Rather than truly represent the best interests of workers, the building trades unions are focused on saving their failing business model and are relying on NDP government-ordered union monopolies on taxpayer-funded projects in a bid to remain relevant.”
Gardner noted that the building trades unions are advertising a program to certify Canadian union plumbers to work (and move to) New Zealand. And the same with union electricians: the first group of B.C. union electricians started working in New Zealand in March.
“The same unions who claim B.C. has a huge worker shortage and constantly fear-monger about foreign workers taking jobs from British Columbians is shipping B.C.-trained plumbers and electricians halfway around the world,” said Gardner. But where the building trades unions have failed B.C. workers and the construction industry, ICBA, open shop and progressive labour organizations have more than picked up the slack, Gardner said.
“Workers want choice, flexibility and opportunities to grow and succeed, that’s why non-building trades construction contractors are growing,” said Gardner. “It’s hard to find innovation and new approaches to work in 1970s style union hiring halls where union organizers tell you when, where or even if you can go to work in the morning.”
Click HERE for an infographic illustrating the statistics above.
Click HERE to read an op-ed from Chris Gardner on these trends. This op-ed is available for media outlets to publish, free-of-charge.
This op-ed by ICBA President Chris Gardner first appeared in The Province newspaper on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Decades after Mark Twain popularized this remark, the building trades unions in B.C. have breathed new life into his observation.
Only 15 per cent of B.C.’s 250,000 construction workers are affiliated with the traditional building trades unions. While the rest of the men and women in construction have moved onto more flexible models that give workers greater choice, better career options and participation in profit-sharing and bonus plans, the building trades cling to old-school hiring halls, rewarding seniority over skill, rigid rules and antiquated business practices that hurt workers and are financially unsustainable.
Desperate to turn back the clock and to justify to their members – and government – that they remain relevant, the building trades have adopted apprenticeship training as their last line of defence. Unfortunately for them, neither the facts nor the statistics back up their sanctimony.
Learning a skill and mastering a craft happens on the job working side-by-side with colleagues who have the experience and expertise to pass on to those following in their footsteps. What is learned in the classroom is enhanced and refined on the job.
It should then come as no surprise that the building trades train only 15% of the construction workforce – that’s the percentage of the workforce they represent. The remaining 85% of construction workers who are members of employee associations and progressive unions or who work for construction companies not affiliated with the building trades unions are trained in classrooms by instructors and on the job by their colleagues, just like their building trades counterparts.
In fact, statistics obtained from the Industry Training Authority (ITA) through a Freedom of Information request shows that 23,172 of the province’s 28,432 registered construction apprentices are not affiliated with any union. That means 81.5 per cent of construction apprentices are not sponsored by the building trades or any other union, including progressive ones like CLAC.
The vast majority of apprenticeship sponsorship in this province is done by Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) and open shop companies – not the traditional building trades unions. It’s not even close.
That ICBA sponsors more construction apprentices than any other entity in B.C. is an ever-present uncomfortable reality for unions who collect millions in “training” funds from their workers.
In a recent op-ed, building trades union president Tom Sigurdson tried to downplay ICBA’s number of apprentices by cherry-picking a stat claiming that “there are more than 1,300 registered apprentices in just two of our union trade schools alone: the Electrical Joint Training Committee and the Piping Industry College.”
But the ITA’s numbers show that ICBA and non-union companies have thousands more apprentices in those trades. Combined, ICBA and non-union companies sponsor 10,329 construction and industrial electrician, plumber, sprinkler fitter, steamfitter-pipefitter and welder apprentices. The unions train 2,073. That’s a margin of 5 to 1 for the open shop.
And we’re not certain those union-trained apprentices are even staying in B.C. The Piping Industry College is advertising a program to certify Canadian union plumbers to work (and move to) New Zealand. That’s right: the same unions who claim B.C. has a huge worker shortage and constantly fear-monger about foreign workers taking jobs from British Columbians is shipping B.C.-trained plumbers halfway around the world. And it’s not just plumbers – the first group of B.C. union electricians started working in New Zealand in March.
All of this makes the NDP Government’s move to building trades union-only monopolies on major taxpayer-funded projects so offensive. By forcing all workers on the Pattullo Bridge to join a building trades union and to become an employee of a new crown corporation is a sop to the building trades unions who happened to have donated $2.5 million to the NDP over the past few elections.
Money talks, folks. This gift to the friends and insiders of the NDP Government is not about training or hiring more young people or providing more opportunities for women – indeed, the statistics prove non-union apprenticeship is thriving. It’s money at the heart of one of the most offensive backroom deals to come out of Victoria in decades.
Chris and Jordan break down the crushing court defeat to John Horgan’s Trans Mountain reference case; Horgan’s delays on Massey; the NDP’s pandering to their special interest groups; and the crumbling confidence of the BC business community.
Yesterday, ICBA hosted an impromptu 60th birthday party for the Massey Tunnel, We wanted to get the media’s and politicians’ attention on Massey and the critical need to replace it. Judging from the coverage, it worked:
- Vancouver Sun: “The party has long been over for the thousands of drivers who use the Massey every day, and who know just how small, out-of-date and unsafe the tunnel has become,” said Chris Gardner, president of [ICBA]. “A new crossing was well under way until the NDP government came to power in 2017 and killed it for no good reason. They’re still dragging their heels on a replacement years later, and drivers are still asking for a new crossing.”
- Delta Optimist: “There were always five options to replace the George Massey Tunnel and always the best option was a bridge right over top of Highway 99 with the alignment that we have today. So study after study, and now they’re thinking possibly 2030, even if they got through the studies and were to get busy building a replacement for this tunnel…how many traffic tie-ups are there going to be between now and 2030?” he asked.
- CBC News: “[The tunnel] is now woefully undersized and desperately in need of a replacement, but the NDP government keeps dragging its heels on it,” said Jordan Bateman, adding that the tunnel would be extremely dangerous in the event of an earthquake.
- Global TV: “[The tunnel] is woefully out of date, it is falling apart, it is not seismically safe and it is in desperate need of replacement,” said Independent Contractors Business Association (ICBA) spokesperson Jordan Bateman. “It has now been two years, we are no closer to a new Massey crossing.”
- Fairchild TV (Chinese language)
DELTA—Sixty years ago, on May 23, 1959, the Massey Tunnel opened to traffic. Today, thousands of commuters celebrated Massey’s 60th birthday by waiting up to 60 extra minutes in its traffic.
To mark the Massey’s birthday and call on the NDP Government to expedite a replacement crossing, Delta South MLA Ian Paton and Richmond-Queensborough MLA Jas Johal joined Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) vice-president Jordan Bateman at an impromptu 60th birthday party near the tunnel today.
Bateman, Paton and Johal have all been very vocal about the need for a replacement for the Massey due to safety and congestion issues. A planned new bridge was stopped by the NDP Government in 2017, delaying any possible replacement for years.
“The party has long been over for the thousands of drivers who use the Massey every day, and who know just how small, out-of-date and unsafe the tunnel has become,” said Bateman. “A new crossing was well under way until the NDP government came to power in 2017 and killed it for no good reason. They’re still dragging their heels on a replacement years later, and drivers are still asking for a new crossing.”
“This event is anything but celebratory. Local commuters and visiting travellers are sick and tired of sitting in B.C.’s worst bottleneck. They want action today— not a decade from now,” said Paton. “John Horgan and the NDP continue to stall this important replacement project while motorists and our economy suffer. It’s completely unacceptable.”
“At 60 years old, this tunnel is aging and seismically unsafe. It needs to be replaced with a safer and more efficient alternative,” said Johal. “John Horgan and the NDP have consensus from local mayors on how to proceed, yet they continue to sit on their hands. They are failing to provide relief to drivers and business owners.”
ICBA has launched a website, BuildMassey.ca, where drivers can send an email to Horgan asking that a new Massey crossing be expedited.
TRAINING ‘THRONESDAY’: Infection Control During Construction, Renovation and Maintenance of Healthcare Facilities
Construction, renovation, and maintenance of health care facilities bring specific risks associated with potentially fatal infection and illness. If your jobsite is a health care facility, we want to help you with our two upcoming workshops. The first is Fundamentals of Infection Control During Construction, Renovation and Maintenance of Healthcare Facilities, on June 25 in Burnaby.
Preventing and controlling infection while these activities take place requires the implementation and support of preventive measures intended to protect patients, staff, and visitors from potential harm. Focusing on the application of the CSA Z317.13 standard, participants will learn how to address necessary measures and help control infection risk in health care facilities. And you’ll learn 1 Gold Seal Credit!
The second course, Effective Implementation and Practical Applications of Infection Control During Construction, Renovation and Maintenance of Healthcare Facilities, takes place on June 26 and builds on the foundation established by the Fundamentals course the day before. Participants will gain insight into the latest developments and requirements of this critical field and acquire practical knowledge on how to apply the necessary measures to help control risk.
You’ll also earn 1 Gold Seal Credit for this session.
VANCOUVER – The NDP Government’s first construction contract under their union monopoly deal will cost taxpayers $22.5 million more than expected, and is another reason why the NDP should kill its so-called Community Benefit Agreement scheme, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).
On Thursday, the NDP Government announced that the Illecillewaet project near Revelstoke, which will widen Highway 1 to four lanes for two kilometres, had been awarded to a building trades union-organized company. The contract came in at $85.2 million – $22.3 million more than originally budgeted, and work hasn’t even started yet.
“The NDP’s sweetheart deal with their building trade union allies has driven the cost of this project up by a third, and they’re not even in the ground yet,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “It’s no surprise – there were far fewer bidders than expected as many roadbuilding companies are avoiding the NDP’s forced labour model. It’s a backroom deal of the worst kind.”
Under John Horgan’s new law, within 30 days of employment on the job site, any non-union worker or a worker from another affiliation is forced to join an NDP-approved union for work specific to the project. The new policy gives the building trades unions a monopoly on several government-funded construction projects, reducing efficiencies and driving up costs to taxpayers.
“By giftwrapping a monopoly to their union allies, the NDP government is overspending on labour on this, on other Highway 1 work, the Pattullo Bridge replacement, and the Broadway subway,” said Gardner. “This means there will be less money for other construction priorities around B.C.”
ICBA, other construction and business associations, progressive unions, and open-shop companies have joined forces in a court challenge of the NDP’s CBA scheme.
“The NDP should not be allowed to cut out 85 per cent of construction workers in this province, simply because they do not belong to a union that gave them campaign donations,” said Gardner. “This building trades union-only monopoly on major taxpayer-funded projects is offensive. Forcing workers to join a building trades union and to become an employee of a new crown corporation is a sop to the unions who happened to have donated $2.5 million to the NDP over the past few elections. It should be stopped immediately.”
These days, social media for business is as much of a requirement as bilingualism in Parliament. Not sure how to take advantage of it? Register now for our Social Media for your Business workshop June 4 in Langley!
Social media is a powerful (and not to mention FREE) tool that can be used to promote to, engage with, and learn about your customers. Here are the key takeaways from this half-day session:
- Picking the RIGHT platforms for your brand
- How to optimize these platforms
- Measuring the ROI of social media efforts
- Tips and tricks for creating a calendar full of great content
- How to manage your time spent on social media
Plus, you’ll earn 2.5 Group B CPD Points from BC Housing! Register at www.icba.ca/courses.
The construction industry moves fast. Technological challenges and advances come quickly, and businesses need to be ready.
That’s why ICBA has joined with Procore to present an ICBA event, “Construction Technology: Reshaping the Industry”, a complimentary breakfast at Vancouver’s Terminal City Club on June 4th.
Four very accomplished leaders from our industry will share their perspectives on how we can adapt and navigate our organizations through unprecedented change coming to our industry.
We expect a turnout of more than 250 attendees from our industry so it should be a great opportunity to network as well. We would be delighted if you could join so please register at the link provided below. If you would like to bring a colleague or two please register them as well or forward them this post.
How to Register:
- Click the following link – www.icba.ca/tech
- Tuesday June 4, 2019
- 7:00 – 7:45 AM – Check in / Networking / Breakfast.
- 7:45 – 9:30 AM – Panel & Q&A. Please note there will be no individual presentations (no PowerPoint), instead it will be a panel event throughout.
- 9:30 – 10:00 AM – Networking / Finish.
- Terminal City Club – 837 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1B6
- Dress Code – Business casual
- Cost – Complimentary – You are our guest
Panel Moderator Extraordinaire
- Tooey Courtemanche – CEO at Procore Technologies.
- Darin Hughes – President at Scott Construction
- Sheryl Staub-French – Professor at UBC Faculty of Applied Science – Department of Civil Engineering
- Steve Robinson – Owner at Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical
It’s a great panel representing a cross section of the industry so looking forward to you joining us so we can eat, drink, and learn about how to make the hard work of construction easier.
Do you serve on a joint health and safety committee in your workplace? Our Responsibilities of Joint Health and Safety Committees course is here for you! As of April 2017, all new committee members must receive eight hours of training. This course will help you fulfill that requirement.
- Know how to use the OHS Regulation and WC Act to access health & safety requirements;
- Explain the roles and functions of the Joint Committee and the Worker Representatives;
- Learn how to perform an incident investigation;
- Learn how to perform a formal site inspection; and
- Develop a foundation in knowledge to:
- Promote workplace health and safety
- Assist in ensuring the health and safety program elements are implemented;
- Conduct and participate in Joint Committee Meetings; and
- Work cooperatively to address workers’ health and safety concerns.
- Use of WorkSafe OHS Regulation;
- Joint Health and Safety committee and workers representatives;
- OHS Program;
- Safety Inspections;
- Incident investigations;
- Refusal of unsafe work;
- How to work as a committee;
- Different types of recommendations; and
- Hazard management.
You’ll also earn 8 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing! Our next session is May 17 in Burnaby, and again June 7 and July 9. Register for this or any of our other upcoming sessions at www.icba.ca/courses.