Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Question for Carpenters UBC President Douglas J. McCarron

YouTube video
"Will the rank and file be able to get their vote back anytime?"

Saturday, December 29, 2007

British Columbia Construction Association plans another recruitment trip to Germany – Journal of Commerce

article: Journal of Commerce
As of October 2007, Brodersen has help bring 112 skilled workers to B.C. under a program called EU-Step. Most of these workers are carpenters, roofers, bricklayers, ironworkers, glaziers and electricians. About one-third of these workers gain their permanent residency, under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CMAW: Winter 2007 newsletter

now online in pdf format
Read the newsletter for articles in the press about CMAW's break from the international, a report from the 1st Annual CMAW Convention, and to find out the new name for the newsletter.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Government foreign worker office long overdue - but still misses the point

The Alberta Federation of Labour reacted with guarded optimism to the Government's new measures announced today to protect temporary foreign workers.

The two special advisory offices for temporary foreign workers are a welcome - if long overdue - measure,' says AFL President Gil McGowan. 'The AFL had set up its own temporary foreign workers' advocate office last spring as a result of seeing a desperate need for such a measure.'

Alberta opens two advisory offices to help foreign workers

read full article: Journal of Commerce
The first advisory offices for temporary foreign workers in Canada are being established to help ensure vulnerable workers are treated fairly.

The Alberta Government announced on Dec. 10 that two workers advisory offices have opened in Edmonton and Calgary at a cost of $1 million a year.

The offices, which are the first of their kind in Canada, will provide access to information and services for temporary foreign workers.

Investigations of complaints and inspections will be carried out by eight experienced employment standards officers.

They will help resolve employment standards or occupational health and safety issues.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nails in Their Stockings

Nails in Their Stockings - by Tom Robbins, The Village Voice
"Nobody knows what the hell is going on," griped a veteran carpenter who called this newspaper in a vain attempt to find something out.

A couple of phone calls quickly established that yes, the city's carpenters union was again embroiled in a corruption scandal, and yes, the parent union had stepped in, and yes, heads had already rolled.

You'd think that in the age of computers and mobile phones (which I can confirm are possessed by the vast majority of the city's rank-and-file carpenters), the details of this coup would have already been shared with the membership. But here it is, three weeks later, and the key information has yet to be imparted by the New York City District Council of Carpenters to these hardworking New Yorkers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Staggering dollar figures attached to Alberta projects

article: The Edmonton Journal
Put simply, Alberta's chronic worker shortage, which is already creating a logistical nightmare for major energy firms, is only getting worse. And unless it's resolved, some big projects will get deferred well into the future, or may be shelved altogether.

In other words, that $237-billion figure may be a giant mirage, and many people outside Alberta's energy sector say that wouldn't be so bad.

"We don't even have enough workers to build what we're building now," says Holmes.

Yes, Alberta continues to lead the nation in population growth, thanks largely to still-hefty inter-provincial migration numbers and a growing share of immigration from other countries.
During the 12 months ended June 30, for instance, more than 50,000 people from other provinces moved to Alberta. B.C. was a distant second, with a little over 10,000 people relocating there.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Construction industry refutes labour federation’s report critical of Temporary Foreign Worker Program – Daily Commercial News

read article: Daily Commercial News
A government program to lure foreign workers to Alberta to fill a huge job vacuum has turned into a vehicle for broken promises, shady operators and illegal kickbacks, says a union report.

More than 25,000 workers have already arrived in Alberta from dozens of countries, including the Philippines, India, Poland, Ukraine and China. Some are working at fast-food restaurants, while others are trades people or labourers working on construction projects.

The Alberta Federation of Labour report says many of those recruited under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are being mistreated.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

CMAW Carpenters Good, UBCJA Carpenters Bad, according to Peter Kiewit

One of the world’s largest construction companies has complained that they can’t get qualified carpenters dispatched from the UBCJA local to work on the Revelstoke Dam.

Peter Kiewit Sons has written to the Labour Relations Board saying they know that the qualified carpenters they need are members of CMAW. Peter Kiewit’s lawyers have asked for intervenor status at a board hearing set for Dec. 11 in an attempt to get the qualified CMAW carpenters they need.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Local 157 - Manhattan: Supervision for Carpenters’ Union

report: New York Times: "The carpenters’ union local for the East Side was placed under emergency supervision yesterday by Douglas McCarron, the president of the parent union in Washington."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Temporary Labour or Disposable Workers?

Temporary Labour or Disposable Workers? - by TIM MURPHY, The Dominion
Don MacNeil from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union is equally critical of the government-run program.

"It's a litany of horror stories that almost smack of servitude. They [the workers] are artificially subdued because the threat of being sent back is always hanging over their heads and so the complaints part of the process is largely silent."

The permit that allows foreigners to work in Canada has their employer's name on it. Although they are theoretically entitled to the same employment and labour rights as Canadian workers, they don't have the same freedom to act on those rights, since they can be sent home at any time, without question and at the discretion of the employer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Letting the Wildcat Out of the Bag

Alberta's Averted Energy Tradesworker General Strike and the Fall Wildcat Walk-Outs - by STUART NEATBY, The Dominion
In addition, the fall-out from the strike vote was a series of wildcat strike actions, for the most part carried out illegally by hundreds of rank-and-file carpenters in open challenge of the Alberta government's hostile labour laws. Although this wave of worker direct action lasted little more than a week, they have prompted organized labour in Alberta to mount a Supreme Court challenge of the Alberta Labour Code, a process which has the possibility of removing one of the biggest stumbling blocks for organized labour in Alberta.

In case you missed all of this over the summer, the timeline below runs through the basic points of interest of the averted “summer of strikes,” culminating in September's economic disruption of the energy sector.

Friday, November 02, 2007

B.C. carpenters end 'epic struggle'

By Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun - Published: Friday, November 02, 2007
B.C. carpenters end 'epic struggle'
Members vote in favour of breaking away from U.S.-based union

B.C. carpenters have voted in favour of a settlement allowing them to break from their U.S.-based union in favour of a newer Canadian union.

Approximately 5,000 members of the Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Union [CMAW], representing the majority of unionized carpenters in B.C., voted 76 per cent in favour of the terms of a B.C. Labour Relations Board report allowing separation from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners [UBCJ] based in Washington, D.C., a news release said on Thursday.

"We're the first construction union to successfully break away from the international parent outside of Quebec," CMAW president Jan Noster said in an interview Thursday. "We've been in this epic struggle for the last 11 years. We want to control our own destiny in B.C. and not have decisions on construction sites made in Washington, D.C."

Despite that, Noster noted that the Labour Relations Board decision also means CMAW will have to pay the UBCJ $6 million. The CMAW and UBCJ will also both have the right to represent carpenters in B.C.

But Noster maintained that the $6 million was a small price to pay for independence. He also said that 95 per cent of carpenters are representing by the CMAW, which was formed in 2005.

"Only a handful of employers will remain with the UBCJ," he said.

Noster said the break was necessary because members felt the U.S.-based union was undemocratic and wasn't responding to workers' needs. "Mandatory bylaws were imposed. They refused to change with the times."

Noster said the decision will mean better relations with B.C. employers and give new union the opportunity to recruit non-union workers, including those from other trades.

"We'll be able to deal with the employers in a much more responsive way, [because] we don't see ourselves as having a type of adversarial relationship. We want to build on that."

Noster said that union membership in the trades has been dropping steadily over the years, including during the current construction boom, but that it's a trend he hopes to change.

He said unionized carpenters make between $37 and $41 an hour, compared to non-union carpenters who make $35 to $40 an hour. "It's comparable and some non-union [contractors] pay more, but they lack pensions and benefits packages.

"Just 20 per cent of the construction industry in B.C. is now unionized. In the early 1980s, it was 85 per cent. There is no doubt in my mind that this will have a positive impact on being able to reverse the trend."

According to the release, CMAW also represents industrial shop workers and shipyard workers in the Lower Mainland and school board workers in the B.C. interior. It is affiliated with the 150,000-member Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada [CEP].

"Our plan is to represent trades people on a wall-to-wall basis," said Noster. "We're going after that huge non-union workforce. We [also] have 150 electrician members right now."

Meanwhile, Tony Heisterkamp, outgoing president of the B.C. Provincial Council of Carpenters [the UBCJ's local entity], said the decision means that "finally we can control our own destiny without having to go to the international parent body."

He said the new union will likely get a lot more interest from carpenters who "didn't want to send their money south."

CEP national president Dave Coles said in a statement that the B.C. vote is historic for Canadian construction workers. "B.C. carpenters as of today are a Canadian union with a model of all-employee organizing that we believe is the way of the future for workers in the Canadian construction industry."
© The Vancouver Sun 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Canadian Autonomy - free at last

BC carpenters separate from international union - CEP news release
VANCOUVER, Nov. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - A decade long struggle by BC carpenters to break from their international union and establish a Canadian construction union has been won.

5,000 members of the Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Union, representing the great majority of unionized carpenters in B.C., have voted by a margin of 76% to approve the terms of a BC Labour Board report on terms of separation with the Washington based United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.

CMAW also represents industrial shop workers and shipyard workers in the Lower Mainland and school board workers in the BC interior, and it is affiliated with the 150,000 member Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

"This brings a long struggle for Canadian unionism in construction to a conclusion," said Jan Noster, President of the CMAW. "We have gained our freedom at great cost, but it is absolutely worth it to have a democratic union in our own hands. Construction workers need a Canadian union on an industrial model, and now they have CMAW as that union. We are celebrating today, but tomorrow we will be organizing."

"This settlement is historic for Canadian construction workers," said Dave Coles, national President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. "BC carpenters as of today are a Canadian union with a model of all-employee organizing that we believe is the way of the future for workers in the Canadian construction industry."

"Now we can turn our attention to building our Canadian union," said outgoing president of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters, Tony Heisterkamp.

The BCLRB recommendations that allow CMAW members to break their ties with the international union require the BC carpenters to pay the UBCJ $6 million. Both CMAW and UBCJ will have the right to represent carpenters in BC, although over 95% of carpenter certifications in BC are held by CMAW.

For further information: Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628

Monday, October 29, 2007

International settlement vote passed...

by a substantial majority, anyone got specific info?

fraternally, dave2300

wed. note: and the international has accepted the offer!

Friday, October 26, 2007

CMAW to replace BCPC in the AHC

read the full decision as a PDF download
BCLRB No. B235/2007
(Leave for Reconsideration of BCLRB No. B44/2007)

- 17 - BCLRB No. B235/2007
79 Those opposed to the application argue, in essence, that a difference of opinion and approach concerning organization and representation of employees in the unionized construction sector between CMAW and other members of the AHC has led to such “animosity” between CMAW and those members that “forcing” CMAW on the AHC risks destabilizing the poly-party, leading to industrial instability, contrary to Code principles. Those who espouse this argument admit that it is speculative, but argue that the Board should not risk, in effect, “upsetting the apple cart” that is the AHC.

80 We are sensitive to the risk of upsetting the proper and effective functioning of the AHC. We appreciate the point that such voluntarily formed poly-party entities are an important part of the labour relations landscape, particularly in the construction industry. In that context they provide a mechanism by which craft unions could deal with some of the challenges facing the sector. However, at the same time we find the risk of industrial instability said to flow from allowing the addition of CMAW to be speculative and overblown. CMAW has clearly stated that it recognizes it would be bound by the AHC constitution and bargaining structure if its application to replace BCPC is allowed.

81 We also note that CMAW actively participated with the Bargaining Council of British Columbia Building Trades Unions (“BCBCBTU”) in the last round of collective bargaining with the Construction Labour Relations Association (“CLR”) through which an industry-wide settlement was reached. BCBCBTU is a council of 15 craft unions (many of which are also members of AHC) created under Section 41 of the Code to bargain on a multi-trade, multi-employer basis. CLR represents construction contractors who have a collective bargaining relationship with one or more of those building trades unions.

82 While the other constituent members of AHC may be unhappy to have CMAW as a member of AHC, both the context of the building trades sector as well as the fact that employees have voted to have CMAW replace BCPC as a means of dealing with challenges facing the sector must be recognized: see paras. 72-77 above. In these circumstances, we are not persuaded that the differences of opinion and approach between CMAW and other members of AHC are valid reasons to bar CMAW from replacing BCPC in the AHC. Constituent members of a poly-party union are not required to like one another or to agree with one another’s views on all topics; they are required to work together in a way which is ultimately not self-defeating but rather is for the greater good – that is for the good of the employees which they collectively represent.

83 In the circumstances of this case, we are not persuaded to deny CMAW and BCPC’s application. The application reflects the wishes of employees who voted to have CMAW represent BCPC as their bargaining agent in order to deal with the challenges in the construction industry. In order not to unduly restrict the option CMAW
- 18 - BCLRB No. B235/2007
represents, we grant the application to have CMAW replace BCPC in the AHC Certification.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Trick or Treat

Vote Yes for Canadian Autonomy - your ballot must be at the Post Office by 9 AM Monday Oct. 29

and then print out a McCarron Halloween Mask - just print it and punch out his lights

or print out an even scarier one. BOO

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Big Nine a taxing subject

read full article: National Post
Everything they need to know is in the Hamilton story of how one union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 18, is set to make a mess of Hamilton.

For decades, up until 2005, the City of Hamilton employed a few carpenters who were members of Local 18. In September, 2005, four such union members were on the city payroll. On Sept. 12, the union -- launching a new expansion strategy --held a "certification vote" among the four carpenters on whether to certify the union as the bargaining agent for all construction carpentry work performed by or for the city.

Two of the four workers voted in favour of certification. Under Ontario labour law, those two votes were enough to lock in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA) as the exclusive union for all city work.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

'Made in the U.S.A.' wood showing up in Canada

read article: Vancouver Sun
Canadian building products wholesaler Taiga Forest Products normally exports to the U.S., but is currently shipping nothing because of the imploding U.S. housing market, said lumber sales manager Bob Leffler.

The much smaller Metro Vancouver market, which is still robust, is suddenly appearing more attractive to U.S. sawmillers.

"We are able to bring in product from Washington state cheaper than we can from other [domestic] areas," Leffler said. "The whole thing has turned around. It's really ugly," he said, referring to the North American lumber market.

Both lumber and plywood products are showing up in Canada with a "Made in the U.S.A." label.

U.S. plywood doesn't meet Canadian standards, so it is not competing head-to-head with Canadian product. But in turning to the smaller Canadian market, U.S. producers are probably "looking for that last rock to turn over to get through these very tough times," said Jim Baskerville, regional plywood manager at Interior forest company Tolko Industries Ltd.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

CMAW Convention 2007

Jan Noster re-elected President

new officers sworn in

Sunday, October 07, 2007

CMAW Fall Newsletter Online

CMAW Fall Newsletter now online - download the PDF

Vote “YES” for Canadian autonomy!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Unions challenge labour laws

article: Edmonton Journal
Last month, carpenters were prohibited from going on strike because a sufficient number of other construction unions reached settlements with their employers. Under the Labour Relations Code, if agreements are reached with 75 per cent of the bargaining units in the construction industry, the remaining unions are forced into binding arbitration.

According to court documents, of the 1,817 ballots cast by carpenters in the strike vote, 1,543 favoured a strike, 64 voted against striking and 210 ballots were in dispute.
The union's lawsuit seeks to strike down the 75-per-cent threshold provision and other impediments to collective bargaining and striking.

"It goes to the issue of freedom of association and to bargain collectively and strike independently," said Piper. "Those rights have been taken away."

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Gordon Campbell government in B.C. had breached workers' rights as guaranteed by the charter when it invalidated a collective agreement that had been signed with hospital workers by the previous administration.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Union leader challenges Monte "Open-the-Floodgates" Solberg to justify latest expansion of Temporary Foreign Worker program

Canada NewsWire (press release)
Government shouldn't be in the business of helping keep wages down, says AFL

EDMONTON, Sept. 27 /CNW/ - Just because more and more employers are clamoring for access to easy-to-exploit temporary foreign workers doesn't mean the government should ignore the broader public interest and give them what they want.

That was the message of a strongly-worded letter sent today by Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan to federal Human Resources minister Monte Solberg.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lotto winner cashes in $8.8M bookmark

CBC News
A pipeline worker from Hinton, Alta., got more than a thrill from her mystery novel when she found the lotto ticket she was using as a bookmark won her nearly $9 million.

B.C. and Alberta fast-track foreign workers

read: Vancouver Sun
Temporary foreign workers will be fast-tracked into British Columbia and Alberta in as little as five days under a pilot project launched today to address "very desperate" labour shortages in both provinces.

Monday, September 24, 2007

To all members of CMAW and the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters


answer YES to the $6 Million question - let's pay the International off at par - and stop wasting millions in additional legal fees

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tradespeople hold mock funeral

CANOE -- CNEWS - Weird News
Yelling "shame," "change the law," and "no more Iris," the demonstrators unleashed their anger at the provincial government - and in particular Employment Minister Iris Evans - for enforcing labour laws they say are unconstitutional.

A recent Supreme Court ruling made collective bargaining a constitutional right, said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.

"Alberta's labour laws don't facilitate collective bargaining, they discourage it," McGowan said. "It's not only wrong. It's now illegal," he said.

McGowan announced that the first charter challenge had been filed by the Boilermakers Local 146 two days ago, calling the union "the first into the breech."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Union probing layoff of Newfoundlanders in Alberta

read full article: St. John's Telegram, Canada
A union representing workers at a major oil sands project in Alberta says it has confirmed that Newfoundlanders were left stranded in Alberta by improper layoffs, but contends the magnitude wasn't as great as first expected.

All the same, Frank Kooger, regional director with the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in Fort McMurray, said steps will be taken to resolve what happened.

"What we've been able to identify through our pursuit is there were two gentleman who were laid off or terminated during their probation period, and that they were improperly just given a ticket to Edmonton and let go," said Kooger, who was in St. John's Thursday making media rounds in an attempt to defuse the situation.

He said the company in question had been approached by the union, and the company will be reviewing its layoff record as a result.

"That's improper on the part of the employer," Kooger said of what happened. "(The workers') tickets will be reimbursed."

As first reported by The Telegram, Sept. 13, a group of Newfoundland workers had complained they were unexpectedly laid off due to what they were told was a shortage of work by a contractor at the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) Horizon oil sands project.

The workers had been on a 20-days-on, eight-days-off schedule that required the company to take care of worker flights between Newfoundland and Alberta.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Threats of criminal charges for striking workers

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the Alberta Building Trades Council have taken out ads warning carpenters they could face criminal charges or civil action if they don't return to work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alberta: Worker suffers fatal injury while climbing scaffolding

OHS Canada
An Alberta worker has died after falling approximately eight feet from scaffolding while working on a house under construction.

At about 3:15 pm on September 11, two workers were installing tube and clamp scaffolding as part of external work on a new house under construction in Calgary when the worker fell, says Barrie Harrison, spokesman for Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry (AEII). When paramedics arrived on the scene, says a statement from Calgary Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the worker was unconscious. The worker required aggressive advanced life support and was transported to Foothills Hospital in critical, life-threatening condition, the statement says, and later pronounced deceased.

“[The worker] tried to climb from a 2.3-metre tall section of scaffolding to a 3.2-metre section when he fell, struck a crossbar and landed on the ground,” Harrison reports. “All we know at this point is that the distance of the fall was between 2.3 and 3.2 metres.”

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Scaffolding collapses at condo project

article: Victoria Times Colonist
The collapsed happened about 4 p.m. at the ironically-named The Falls construction site, on Douglas Street at Burdett. It's an $80 million luxury condominium project being developed by Westbank Projects of Vancouver.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Workers converge in protest

update: The Calgary Sun
The demonstration was in response to an Alberta Labour Relations Board motion ordering union workers to "cease and desist" such pickets.

Journeyman millwright Stephen Anderson said unions have "gone through all the legal channels but Alberta's labour laws are slanted against us." Millwrights have agreed to a contract, but Anderson said many union members didn't agree with its ratification.

"This is all about antiquated labour laws favouring big oil, and making it nearly impossible for us to strike," he said.

Similar "information pickets" in Fort McMurray have cost at least 200 scaffolders their jobs at the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. Horizon oilsands project, said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.

CNRL could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tradespeople defy back-to-work order

update: Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Construction tradespeople defied a back-to-work order today in a growing revolt against Alberta's labour laws.

Hundreds of union workers shut down construction at Petro-Canada's billion-dollar refinery expansion, then staged a rally in front of the Alberta Labour Relations Board, near the legislature.

Major work disruptions were reported at some construction sites in Fort McMurray and at Shell's Scotford plant in Fort Saskatchewan.

'It's spreading,' Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said of the job action.

Alberta carpenters are furious after being denied right to strike - Journal of Commerce, Canada

Friday, September 07, 2007

Strike ruling angers Alberta's unionized carpenters, roofers

article: CBC News
Although some union members are calling for wildcat strikes, union official Martyn Piper says the union does not want its members to do anything illegal.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Forestry's tectonic shift

article: Vancouver Sun
This day, Aug. 30, marked the last day one of the mill's two football field-long paper machines will operate. Catalyst is laying off 185 workers, leaving just over 200 people to run the remaining machine. A third machine, shut down last year, is being taken apart and shipped to India. When it is re-assembled, it will emerge as yet another low-cost competitor.

CEP Local 592 #3 Paper Machine
The rumor that A3 has been sold appears to be true. Ron Buchhorn did confirm that there were discussions with prospective buyers and the specific details were still to be worked out. He also confirmed that if and when the machine is to be dismantled and crated, that JVDI would be contracted and that the company would employ some of our laid-off members working under our collective agreement.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Alberta carpenters, roofers ready for strike

article: CBC News
The Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters and Allied Workers said in a news release it plans to serve strike notice Wednesday morning to Construction Labour Relations, the umbrella group that negotiates the contract for the workers.

However, under a Alberta labour law, if 19 of the 25 groups in the province's unionized construction industry negotiate a deal with their employers, the remaining groups have to go to arbitration and can't walk off the job.

Right now, 18 have a deal.

Carpenters set to hit picket lines Saturday - The Edmonton Journal

The Contractors trying to head off strike - Calgary Sun

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labour Day

"With all their faults, trade-unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men."
Clarence Darrow, in The Railroad Trainmen, 1909

click for Labour Day flash animation from

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quebec police says masked protesters were cops

Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, has alleged the three masked men had acted as agents provocateurs.

A video posted on YouTube from Monday's protests in Montebello, Que. shows Coles in a confrontation with the men.

He tells them to remove their masks. One of the three men is holding a rock and Coles tells him to move because their line is meant for peaceful protesters.

'These three guys are cops, everybody!' Coles can be heard shouting to the crowd as he tries to pull down their bandanas.

The three men then push their way into the police line and appear to be arrested, then taken away.

Police said that after viewing the clip, they were able to confirm the men were Quebec provincial police officers.

Photographs taken by another protester had shown the three men lying on the ground with the soles of their boots adorned by yellow octagons. A police officer kneeling beside the men appeared to have the same imprint on his boot -- likely the Vibram boots logo.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Oilsands workers unhappy with offer

FORT MCMURRAY -- Workers from all trades at the Long Lake oilsands site south of Fort McMurray are protesting the latest contract offers before their unions.

Several workers participated in a "very peaceful demonstration" organized by the pipefitters Friday afternoon, said Dawn Ohama, an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Workers don't like the current four-year proposal retroactive to Aug. 12, when the terms were agreed on. They want a two-year deal retroactive to May 1, when past contracts expired.

The last offer made to IBEW members calls for a minimum pay increase of 23% over the next four years.

It also includes a 1% inflation protection index.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Another union settles: possibility of strike by trades workers remote

article: Fort McMurray Today
Four of five unions in a legal strike position may not be hitting the bricks after all as they have reached unratified memorandums of agreement (MOA).

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is the latest union to reach an MOA, its third attempt at a new contract.

“We’re happy that we’ve got a memorandum that can go back to our membership with,” said Tim Brower, IBEW business manger, adding he was pleased a strike may have been averted.
Brower was in Fort McMurray Wednesday night meeting with shop stewards and discussing the MOA. He added the union is recommending its members accept the deal. Voting will be done by a mail-in ballot.

The four-year agreement calls for minimum wage increases totalling 23 per cent.

Construction workers eye strike

article: Edmonton Sun
Some 7,000 carpenters and labourers played catch-up with five other unions last night as they packed a downtown hotel for a strike vote.

"At this point the contractors have not come to us with an offer we can take back to our members," said Martyn Piper, spokesman for the Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters and Allied Workers.

"The major stumbling block is that we aren't prepared to accept percentage wage increases. That only increases the gap between the trades. We want increases in the contract that are in dollars and cents."

The union members are among several construction trades yet to ratify agreements with the Construction Labour Relations Association, which represents contractors.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is currently voting on whether to accept an offer of a 24% pay raise over four years, which includes inflation protection.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2007 Shutdown schedule now online

Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers (CMAW)

Musings From the Goddess of Garbage

Musings From the Goddess of Garbage submitted by Gordon Flett, CEP 2000, via email
- I would dump my garbage at City Hall if I lived in the city
How is the civic strike affecting you?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Alberta labour flexes its muscle

3 page article: Financial Post Organized labour within the province's construction sector may be a shell of its former self, but the stakes are higher than they ever were in the early 1980s.

This time it's not office towers that are exposed to being toppled, figuratively, by an extended job action or surging labour costs but a $100-billion oilsands sector that is already feeling the pinch from cost increases in areas other than labour.

Mr. Payne and his union brethren make no bones about the fact they have fixed their eyes on the oilsands and US$70 oil as a way to reclaim ground that was lost as oil prices fell in the mid-80's bust.

"We're standing here in a position to right history," he says, seated in a tiny cafe near the carpenters and joiners' headquarters on the fringes of downtown Calgary, describing the psyche within his union of 6,000 -- or at least among those carpenters who have long memories. He says there are many who do remember the hard times, just as there are many cognizant of Alberta's present-day economic status.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

'Don't mess with Alberta'
'Should a red seal welder, the highest apprenticeship there is, weld pipe from Edmonton to the B.C. border and be recognized the world over but not be able to weld pipe on the other side of the border in B.C.? Is that acceptable?'

The conference is to focus on energy, interprovincial trade and the environment. The second issue is particularly important to Alberta which is pushing for a national version of its Trade, Investment, Labour and Mobility Agreement with B.C.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Carpenters, labourers take strike votes

article by Gordon Jaremko,
Another two construction unions are taking strike votes, raising the number of trades liable to down tools across Alberta this summer to seven.About 5,000 carpenters and 2,000 laborers vote Aug. 15 on whether to line up for action with boilermakers, plumbers, electricians, millwrights and refrigeration mechanics.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

There's trouble brewing in paradise

CANOE -- CNEWS - Daily Feature:
Families have paid a high price for the turmoil in the forestry industry. Of the 127 members of the Canadian Energy and Paperworkers' Union who lost their jobs, about half moved away. Families have split up. Displaced workers have taken jobs in Alberta to pay the bills -- many of them working 20 days in and four days off in order to travel the 1,600 miles home. Still, Calgary is closer than Toronto.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Unions must vote again

By CAROL CHRISTIAN, Fort McMurray Today
Come Labour Day, there could be no labour on oilsands and other worksites, as ongoing negotiations with area trades have hit two new snags -- a do-over vote and a new strike mandate from two other unions.
While the boilermakers vote (Local 146) complied with Alberta labour laws, it missed the mark with its own international constitution. One example is the use of Alberta Labour Relations Board approved ballots instead of the union’s specific strike ballots. That means a re-vote has to be held with mail-in ballots to be counted Aug. 18.
While it doesn’t change the outcome, the new vote has to be held because “It’s constitutionally necessary. Their international won’t let them come along with the other four to strike,” said Barry Salmon, media liaison for the unions. This action will further delay negotiation or strike actions because the unsettled trade unions have to serve strike notice as a united group.
The unions involved also represent electrical workers, millwrights, refrigeration mechanics plus plumbers and pipefitters.
The original vote was held July 4. Those ballots had the boilermakers voting 98.6 per cent in favour of a strike. The low end was 85 per cent in favour from the refrigeration mechanics.
Now adding to the mix is two other unsettled trades, carpenters and labourers. They decided to to take a strike vote Aug. 15. Their contracts expired at the end of April.
While this delay further frustrates the process, Salmon noted “There may be some tactical advantage to wait until those two trades can come with us.” He added that instead of being five strong, they’ll be seven strong with a strike mandate.
Meanwhile, delay tactics is a term being used by unions to describe the negotiation process surrounding contracts for the five unsettled trade unions.
Settlements have been reached with 14 of the 25 trades. Under the Alberta labour code, if 19 have reached agreement, the remaining unsettled trades are forced in line with their right to strike removed.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Horizon faces test if oilsands strike

article by Jon Harding, Financial Post
'If Canadian Natural wants to tell investors it's protected from a strike, then the company is dreaming in technicolour,' Mr. McGowan said. 'The question around Division 8 hasn't been answered by the labour relations board and if that state remains and a strike occurs, there's a good chance you'll see picket lines at the Horizon gates.'

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Colbert Report - Solidarity

Comedy Central : Videos
Colbert Report - Solidarity
Stay vigilant, Carpenters Union - you're not only part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ex-B.C. union boss gets 8 years for cocaine bust

article: Vancouver Province
A former B.C. union boss caught smuggling cocaine was jailed in the U.S. for eight years yesterday after refusing to co-operate with authorities.

'He didn't co-operate or testify or give up any names, and that would have reduced his sentence,' said Tom Rice of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Spokane. 'The investigation started on Jan. 18 in a field near the Canadian border and got cold after that and ended in that field.'

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Alta. oilfield unions hold off on strike -- for now

article: CanWest News Service
A possible strike by 25,000 tradespeople in Alberta's oilsands is not expected until at least Monday, according to Barry Salmon of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, spokesman for the five unions currently in negotiation.On Tuesday, five oilsands construction unions voted overwhelmingly to strike in a move that could halt work at oilsands projects in Fort McMurray, Alta.

The unions -- boilermakers, plumbers and pipe fitters, electrical workers, millwrights and refrigerator mechanics -- held simultaneous ballots earlier this month, the first such votes in almost three decades.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Threat to oilsands as unions OK strike

read full article: The National Post
In an environment of high wages and a bounty of job opportunities, Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour president, said the hearty strike vote and the fact unions overcame challenging regulatory thresholds to attain the mandate proves dissatisfaction runs deep. In Monday's results, refrigerator mechanics registered the lowest support, voting 85% in favour of striking, while boilermakers gave strongest approval at 99%.

"Given the number of hurdles that have been placed in front of construction unions, the fact that they've gotten to the point of actually conducting a strike vote and getting such a decisive mandate from their members is almost miraculous," he said. "It speaks to how strongly rank and file construction workers feel, that they haven't been treated fairly."

Construction strikes are extraordinary in Alberta, as provincial legislation forbids a union from holding a strike vote on its own; votes are legal only if a majority of unions within certain categories agree to band together for a joint plebiscite.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Four unions await ruling by labour board this week

The Edmonton Journal
About 2,300 Suncor workers, members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, earlier this month accepted a new agreement that gives them a 19-per-cent raise over three years, plus a $4,000 signing bonus.

Trade union ballots sealed in Edmonton
In the meantime, the ironworkers ratified an agreement a week early and there is now debate in front of the Alberta Labour Relations Board about voter eligibility.

That’s because there’s no “jurisprudence,” or precedent, explained Barry Salmon, media liaison for the unions and an official with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Most of the arguments concern foreign workers contracted at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL), said Salmon.

The contention allegedly surrounds a no-strike guarantee and questions whether workers hired within the last 60 days can vote.

“We’re saying, if you’re paying dues ... yes (you can vote),” said Salmon.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Carpenters collective agreements now online

The Carpenters Commercial, Institutional and Industrial long versions of the collective agreements are now posted on-line. This version can be printed off and used anytime.
Thanks alot

download the pdf:

Jan Noster
President, CMAW
cell 604.785.4904
office 604.437.0471
fax 604.437.1110

Friday, July 06, 2007

CMAW Organizer Position

contact the CMAW Hiring Committee
The Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Bargaining Council (a British Columbia-based independent construction union), with a growing membership of almost 6,000 members, is looking for a self-starter for the difficult and challenging position of organizer.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Boilermakers recruiting foreign workers

read article at
Frustrated over a flood of reports of new arrivals to Canada being taken advantage of, an Alberta union local has stepped in as a middleman to recruit temporary foreign workers.

It’s a move that might shock those familiar with the trade union line on the issue: Albertans should get jobs first and Canadians second.

But they’re also acutely aware that the labour shortage and temporary foreign workers are realit

Sunday, June 24, 2007

CMAW Voted................Yes

update at CMAW website
90.23% in favour of a new Constitution for CMAW.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CEP 1123 Online

CEP 1123 Online:: "The Sky is Falling ...
Again or Still ?..."
The piece missing in this latest saga is the contribution of JVD to this mess. The official line is that they were over budget to the tune of $150,000. Since there is no bidding process and they seem to charge whatever they want with Vancouver’s blessing, that figure is rather incredible.

On a more positive note, I predict that the maintenance budget will be looking good again in October 2007, so that JVD can line up at the trough for the annual year-end gorging.

It is rather amazing that, regardless of the pounding, the doom and gloom, the lies and the finger pointing, we manage to keep showing up and doing our job in a safe, efficient and professional way. My guess is that this mill is a big part of our past, our present and our future, and we invest more than money in it

Monday, June 18, 2007

CMAW Spring 2007 Newsletter available

read more at the official CMAW website

download newsletter as pdf
“Name this newsletter” contest extended!
We’ve received several suggestions for a new name for our newsletter but we’d like more! Get your suggestions in and you could win $300. Yes, we’ve increased the prize!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Yes Men pull off hoax at Go Expo Energy Conference in Calgary

full article: CBC News
A pair of anti-corporate activists may have pulled off a bizarre prank at the Go Expo Energy conference.

Footage was broadcast on a television station Thursday from an online site called showing members of a group called the Yes Men posing as key players from the U.S. oil industry.

Oil and gas industry executives had paid $50 each to hear a speech from the National Petroleum Council, a group that advises the White House on oil and gas matters.

Rumour had it that a new joint energy policy from the Canadian and American governments was coming down the pike.

At first, the speech just seemed odd.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ontario construction workers on strike
The union accused the Construction Labour Relations Association of Ontario, the Industrial Contractors Association of Canada, the Sealant and Waterproofing Association, the Concrete Floor Contractors Association of Ontario, and the Ontario Masonry Contractors Association of being 'dysfunctional' and said 'infighting' had delayed a pay offer for a new three-year collective agreement.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Reject Mining Company’s Labour Import Plan, say Steelworkers

USW Canada
USW Western Canada Director Steve Hunt urged rejection of Dehau International Mines Inc.’s plan to bring 400 coal miners from China to operate its Gething Coal Project near Hudson’s Hope, BC.

“There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to begin,” said Hunt. “In less than five years Canada has lost 250,000 manufacturing jobs. Can’t we train any of those workers to mine coal? There is a skilled worker shortage and, at the same time, thousands of skilled workers have lost their jobs. Workers from declining sectors should be trained to do the emerging jobs. As well, government should be working with First Nations on employment opportunities.”

Hunt said BC does have an underground coal mine, the Quinsam mine near Campbell River.

“I’m willing to ask USW members there to train underground miners.”

Monday, June 04, 2007

Piecing together the labour puzzle

Alberta Construction Magazine
“The first people in line for temporary foreign workers were the non-union construction employers. They said they couldn’t find qualified tradespeople, but what they really couldn’t find was people who would be willing to work for their sub-standard wages and working conditions. Instead of tapping into the pool of domestic unionized tradespeople, these employers are going directly to temporary foreign workers from overseas.”

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Teamsters Union Releases Shocking Video Footage of Picket Line Arrests by CP Rail Police Force

Teamsters Canada, Maintenance of Way Employees Division
The Teamsters Union is filing a civil lawsuit against CPR on behalf of its members for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery and unlawful interference with charter rights. The union will also be in BC Supreme Court next week (June 7th) for an injunction application against CP Rail and CP Police, and in front of the Canada Labour Relations Board tomorrow (Friday, June 1st) to make an unfair labour practices complaint. Both actions are aimed at preventing the company from further intimidation and harassment of picketing union members.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

LIUNA accused of raiding two unions

Daily Commercial News
As 25,000 members of 12 locals in Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) are set to strike Monday, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) will convene a hearing the same day into the core of the dispute — attempts to raid 1,000 members of two other trade unions.

And while LIUNA provincial council business manager Patrick Little has called the Provincial Employer Bargaining Agency for the Labourers (PEBAL) “dysfunctional” and claiming “in fighting” within the group has triggered today’s strike deadline, two other union leaders and the Construction Labour Relations Association of Ontario (CLRAO) say there’s much more to the story.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A4 Announcement

CEP Local 592
Today Catalyst Paper informed CEP Local 592 that Port Alberni Division%u2019s #4 Paper Machine would be curtailed indefinitely. This results in the loss of a further 185 jobs at the Port Alberni site. The affect on Local 592 will be the loss of 101 jobs, 45 in operations and 56 in maintenance.

The decision by Catalyst to remove 134,000 tonnes of newsprint capacity from the market has had a devastating impact on both Local 592 and the community of Port Alberni.

CEP Local 592 will be meeting with the company to address the specific details and impacts of this announcement.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Catalyst Paper laying off 185 at Port Alberni operation

Vancouver Sun
Catalyst Paper said Wednesday it is shutting down one of two paper machines at Port Alberni, laying off 185 people in the Vancouver Island community and eliminating another 130 jobs across the company.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

International unions provide better benefits, training, safety

read full text: Daily Commercial News - Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor,
I would like to comment on the position taken by the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in a letter to the editor that appeared in Daily Commercial News on May 22, 2007.
The views expressed by the representative of CLAC are humorous but also very misleading and must be corrected.

In the letter, CLAC is presented as a legitimate alternative to the long-established international building trades unions. In reality, however, CLAC merely plays hand-maiden to employers by negotiating employer-specific agreements and lumping all trades into one contract.

Traditional building trades unions like the Operating Engineers, Boilermakers and Carpenters, to name just a few, have solid reputations and track records of representing workers, providing proper training for apprentices and working towards better health and safety.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

CMAW: Vote Yes!

Click here for the link to a PDF version of the draft constitution.
"Vote Yes to the CMAW Constitution"

B.C. sees jump in construction injuries

Vancouver Sun
B.C.'s booming construction industry had a 'startling' increase in serious injuries last year as the sector struggles with a continuing labour crunch and a young and inexperienced workforce.

A majority of these injuries were the result of falls, workers being hit by falling or swinging objects, and overexertion.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Unions want jobs back

The Chronicle Journal, Canada
“We‘re sick and tired of watching all these jobs leave and everybody packing their bags and moving to Alberta,” United Steelworkers Local 1-2693 president Joe Hanlon told the cheering throng.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Oilpatch workers rake in the pay: study

Edmonton Journal
As the energy sector booms in Western Canada, workers in the oil and gas sector are commanding 80-per-cent more in wages than the average Canadian employee, a gap that has widened more than 20 per cent in the past decade, a new study shows.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tension within Canada's labour movement

Journal of Commerce
Although some members have pulled out of their internationals and formed their own Canadian unions, most of the trades remain content to be internationalists. Yet they could be subject to the same push and pull of accountability to U.S HQs.

It’s a delicate situation, which Canadian officers work assiduously to maintain as a mutually beneficial relationship. Even so, there are occasions when relations become at least wobbly, as in the case of the Carpenters Union where various factions are currently striving for control inside or outside the international, whichever side prevails.

According to Stanford, problems at the Toronto local of the Labourers International Union, where officers were also removed by the international, are another example of tensions even among the building trades that can lead to breakaways. Stanford’s own union some years ago led the biggest retreat from international unionism but there have been others.

The B.C. wing of the International Woodworkers of America, once the biggest union in the province, broke from its international to become independent, although it later joined the international Steelworkers Union in a search for protection by a bigger organization in the winds of change sweeping through the forest industry.

IBEW president Hill upholds Canadian member's rights

By Matt Noyes, Union Democracy Review #167
In sustaining Speranza's appeal, Hill rejected the argument that Speranza was himself responsible for everything posted by other users of the site. Speranza managed the open forum responsibly, Hill said, noting that IBEW members who run independent web sites cannot be expected to "inspect every conversation as to its accuracy and whether it violated a provision of the IBEW constitution" and cannot be subject to union discipline based on comments by others.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

US trade union on China visit

China Daily
James Hoffa, a delegate and Chair of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said dialogue between China and US trade unions are of great importance.

"You can never ignore a nation of 1.3 billion people," he said.

"We expect to have a frank interchange and talk with our Chinese counterparts on issues such as how we can respectively improve the living standards of our member workers."

Hoffa said Change to Win unions share common employers with millions of Chinese workers throughout the service, transportation and industrial sectors, like the United Parcel Service Inc (UPS).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Brawn and brains required

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When would-be apprentices apply to join the carpenters union, the first thing they have to do is take a math test. It's a sign of the increasing importance of math and computers, even in a traditionally low-tech field such as carpentry.

'You gotta know math,' said Dave Dougherty, a 25-year-old third-year millcabinet apprentice. 'Math doesn't lie.'

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Second Tank Collapses at Fort McMurray Work Site

Edmonton Journal
On April 24, two Chinese citizens working for Chinese contractor Sinopec Shanghai Engineering died instantly when the roof of a large storage tank collapsed. Four other workers, also from China, were injured.The investigation into the April collapse is expected to take months.

Nobody was near the tank that collapsed Saturday because a stop-work order from the April accident was still in effect, Frey said. 'There wasn't any work going on the site.'Saturday's collapse will be examined as part of the investigation that was launched in April, he said.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Labour Movement Calls for Shutdown of CNRL Tank Farm

Canada newswire
At its Biennial Convention today, Alberta Federation of Labour delegates voted unanimously for a resolution calling for the immediate shutdown of the CNRL Tank Farm site north of Fort McMurray until government health and safety inspectors determine that the worksite is safe.

The resolution was made in response to news that a second tank collapsed late Saturday night. A first collapse killed two workers last month.

'A second collapse this quickly after the first tragic accident raises many questions about how safe that workplace is,' says AFL President Gil McGowan. 'The labour movement is demanding that the site be shut down until such time that government safety officers can assure workers on that site and all Albertans that it is safe.'

More foreign workers on the way
An agreement between Alberta and the federal government will allow 25,000 foreign workers per year to come to the province to aid in its worker shortage.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says the agreement will cut red tape and give the province increased influence and control of immigration.

Steeplejack Industrial Group Inc. Announces Signing of Albian Sands Expansion 1 Contract to Be the Exclusive Provider of Scaffold Equipment

CCNMatthews (press release)
Steeplejack will be setting up a yard at Jackpine Mine from which to manage the total scaffolding equipment requirements for Albian Sands Expansion 1. Albian Sands will purchase and rent their scaffolding from Steeplejack. The supply of labour to erect and dismantle the scaffolding is not contemplated in this agreement.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

'It's outrageous' - Steel plant to employ mostly foreign workers

Edmonton Sun
Alberta workers should get a crack at filling more than 2,000 jobs at a Malaysian company’s new steel plant in Tofield, the labour community demanded Tuesday.

Sun Media reported exclusively Tuesday that the KNM Group plans to staff the 2,600 employee plant with mostly overseas staff via the Temporary Foreign Worker program, with only 200-300 leftover jobs for Albertans.

It plans to start construction next month, despite still needing months of regulatory approvals.

“It’s obviously a concern, although I can’t say it’s a surprise — this is Alberta, after all,” said Nick Stewart, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-207.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

La Vie Est Bellences ...

CEP 1123 Online: (Life is Beautiful)
What an interesting total mill down we had: the mill was once again crawling with contractors. Mostly from JVD. Being assigned to #5 PM and the TMP during that week, I saw some good examples of over manning and Cover Your A$$.

Jobs like the gear changes on the backside of #5PM, where a crew of six or seven did in 36 hours what our mill crews have done in the past with three people in 16-18 hrs. Add to that the owner’s reps, foremen, area supervisors and our own Maintenance Department staff poking their nose in there regularly to see what is happening (because they were told to!) and you end up with a very expensive way to save money.

The Survival Agreement signed a year ago was supposed to reduce the costs of contracted-out services for Catalyst. Flying 62 Millwrights from Quebec, guaranteeing them seven days wages, room and board, airfare, $500.00 bonus for a three day shut down that could by their own admission, have been done by 20 contractors hardly qualifies as a bargain.

Meanwhile, some JVD employees were sent home after less than two day’s work, that is what happens when you live in the area I guess. The mill crews were kept busy during the down, working long hours, which means that some found work could not be taken car of (we are busy, and JVD is outrageously expensive…)

By talking to the Millwrights from Quebec, I learned that the Survival Agreement is comparable to what they get at home. However, they had no idea on how the deal came about, and were interested to find out about it.

From one job to the next, JVD seems to get pricier, to the point where the maintenance of the mill is adversely affected since it is impossible to spend the same dollar twice, but this is coming from the same company that made 3.9 million in operating earnings in 2006 and waves goodbye to its CEO with $4.8 million severance, which would take from January 1st 2006 to March 9th 2007 to earn, with all of us pitching in.

Construction industry wooing tradespeople

Construction industry wooing tradespeople - Business Edge, Canada
Program hopes to attract more Aboriginal involvement
Homebuilders in Saskatchewan are grappling with a relatively new problem: How to build enough homes to meet the demand in the marketplace.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Oilsands deaths reignite worker safety debate

Business Edge News Magazine
The deaths of two Chinese workers at an oilsands construction site in northern Alberta has reignited a debate over Canada's temporary foreign worker program.

AFL sets up Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate Office

Canada NewsWire (press release)
The Alberta Federation of Labour is creating a new Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate Office to help protect the basic human and workplace rights of vulnerable foreign workers in the province.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

How ya gonna get 'em out of the tar sands?

Unionized carpenters on mainland Nova Scotia have ratified a new contract with contractors who are members of the Construction Management Bureau, says a recent release from the union.

The new collective agreement for members of locals 83 and 1392 of the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Regional Council of Carpenters, Millwrights and Allied Workers includes wage increases and pension and training fund improvements.

Journeymen carpenters are to earn $34.21 per hour under terms of the two-year deal, it says.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day

Unions need to re-energize - Tom Cooper, Hamilton Spectator, Canada
Although Canada celebrates officially on the first Monday in September, many jurisdictions around the world consider today their official Labour Day.

Throughout the 20th century, Canada's labour movement made important strides in pushing for progressive changes in the workplace. Despite sometimes violent opposition from business and government, unions were largely responsible for advancements such as safer workplace conditions, fair hours, paid holidays ... even the concept of 'the weekend.'

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Day of mourning for 160 killed on B.C. jobsites

By Fiona Anderson, Vancouver Sun
Jan Noster, president of the Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers Union, a B.C.-based independent construction union, believes better education and enforcement are the keys to lowering on-the-job accidents.

Education is especially important.'We have a lot of young first-time, inexperienced workers,' Noster said. 'And I don't think we are doing enough to make sure those guys are going home safe every night.

''While employers are certainly doing a better job of ensuring a safe workplace, there still are rogue employers out there that take chances every day,' he added. 'Everyone deserves to make it home at the end of the day safe.'

Thursday, April 26, 2007

CMAW Executive Board Announcement

To All CMAW Local Unions for immediate release
On April 24, 2007, the CMAW Executive Board unanimously ratified a motion approving the replacement CMAW Constitution. 'This task has not been an easy one', says Jan Noster, CMAW President.

'The existing Constitution required unanimous support from all 16 members of the Executive Board, and to achieve unanimity is a feat in itself. We are confident that this democratic and transparent Constitution will be accepted by our members so that we can all join together in taking the next steps of building this Union with a Canadian-made Constitution', Noster said.

The replacement Constitution will now be mailed out to the entire CMAW membership and members will be asked to review the Constitution and mail in their ballots. Your Executive Board member will be calling for a Local Union meeting in your area to discuss the Constitution prior to the deadline of your ballot return date.

Once the ballots are counted, by an independent body, and the members have approved it, notice will be sent out calling for a CMAW Convention.

Worker's Day of Mourning - Day of Mourning
Remembering the 160 B.C. workers who lost their lives to workplace injury and disease in 2006

This year, because the Day of Mourning falls on a Saturday, WorkSafeBC will hold its ceremony on Friday, April 27. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the Workers' Memorial in Vancouver's Hastings Park. Families, workers, employers, and other interested parties are invited to attend.

For US events, check out the AFL-CIO's website and for worldwide events, the place to go (as usual) is Hazards which has a particularly informative website this year. Check it out.

AFL-CIO Death on the Job Report

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Workers have beef over beef

By BROOKES MERRITT, Edmonton Sun, Canada
They've got a beef.

Unionized carpenters at the Albion oilsands site near Fort McMurray are demanding a health inspection following allegations that steaks were delivered to their camp in the back of a filthy pickup truck, unrefrigerated and covered in dirt.

The union called for a boycott yesterday after a cook claimed that 120 steaks were driven to the site on uncovered baking sheets in the open bed of a pickup truck.


"It was disgusting. They were covered in sand and dirt and had been exposed to the dirty air up here," said Michel Marchand, a 19-year-old kitchen staffer hired only one week ago by ESS On-Site Camp Services, which runs the kitchen. He said he unloaded the bare steaks from the back of a pickup truck normally used to haul garbage.

Marchand said the steaks would have been served yesterday if he hadn't brought the issue to the construction site's top boss, Harry Ophof of ATCO. ATCO is overseeing the construction of the Jackpine Mine Village work camp.

Marchand approached Leonard Misener, president of the local United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America union -which employs about 60 workers at site.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Presidents Message - CMAW Local 1995 newsletter, April 2007


CMAW Local Union 1995 has negotiated a dispatching Central Dispatch System agreement for western Canada with the CEP locals 470 (Vancouver Island) and Local 777 Construction (Alberta)

We will be responsible for dispatching to jobs throughout western Canada to signatory contractors that have signed with CMAW and CEP Construction through this newly established Central Dispatch system.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Union officials "condone and endorse" attacks on member's internet free speech

click for full text: Union Democracy Review
Since the first member forum caught their attention, some union leaders have tried to put a lid on member free speech online. They haven't had much success. Internet free speech has spread like a weed, with independent member-run websites, blogs, and forums popping up in all the unions. Many union leaders probably share the frustration expressed by IBEW International Vice President Phil Flemming, 'while we do not condone or endorse the use of independently operated places for members to express their opinions, there is little we can do to stop them.'

Friday, April 13, 2007


download the CEP .pdf
The largest organizing campaign in the history of CEP’s Western Region is underway and our target is the construction industry. Our goal is to become a dominant player in construction by implementing a new approach to union organizing.

Our efforts are underway and have already produced results. CEP has a major role in the construction of the Horizon oil sands project in Alberta.
! Horizon is an $11 billion dollar development being constructed by Canadian Natural Resources Limited in the tar sands region near Fort McMurray.
! CEP has signed a contract covering up to 700 workers in all trades who will build the extractor component at the megaproject.
! CEP has recently brokered a deal with Horizon and the Quebec labour federation’s construction wing (FTQ) that will see hundreds of Quebec tradespeople hired on for the project.
! By organizing workers during the project’s construction phase, CEP is better positioned to organize plant workers when Horizon goes into operation. We currently represent about two thousand workers at the Suncor oil sands plant north of Fort McMurray.
! In addition, Edmonton-based CEP Local 777 has organized upgrading and maintenance workers with JVD Mill Services and other oil sands project work.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Carpenters return to work after big win

Daily Commercial News
Twenty carpenters from Tower Scaffold of Toronto are on a permanent “high” after winning $19.3 million in April 4’s Lotto 6/49 draw.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Millwright ballot asks members to put UBCJA back on dance card

click to download the letter in PDF format:
March 28th 2007 Letter to All Members
Local 2736, Surrey BC
"As our affiliation with CMAW was revoked, the Executive Board of Millwrights' Local 2736 has re-evaluated our position regarding our present status with the International. Through dialogue with the International an agreement to recognize our distinctivenes in the restructuring process has been reached and in turn has alleviated the concerns that forced us to leave the organization originally.

The Executive Board unanimously endorses the AGREEMENT. They also feel that the final approval of re-affiliation should be left to the membership to decide.

Therefore, please fill out the ballot as per instructions

Sincerely Yours, Brian Zdrillic, Business Manager"

Friday, April 06, 2007

Carpenters nail $20M 6/49 prize
The group, members of the Carpenters Local 18 in Hamilton, were assigned to work for Tower Scaffold of Nanticoke. The crew will be back at the electrical generating station there this morning, Rawlings said.

'It's a big relief to know you can now financially control your destiny for the time you're on this earth anyway,' he said.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Carpenters Union using email and txt-ing to mobilize members

read full text at Politics and Technology
Why text messaging? Because they're on the job site - where cell phones are king, not laptops.

With cell phones now as ubiquitous as hammers on carpenters' tool belts, the union has used text messaging to bring campaign captains together for meetings. As negotiations progress, the union might use text-messaging to send out updates, ask for input on specific contract proposals, and notify members about job-site rallies.

And of course, a key strategic goal is reaching younger members - who haven't experienced this before:

'It will be about the money when it comes down to the contract,' he said, 'but we have to address the fundamentals.'

That's particularly true for the younger members, who don't feel the same kinds of bonds to the union that their parents and grandparents did, Franklin said.

'In the carpenter's union, and in the building trades in general, young members are a minority,' Franklin said.

About two-thirds of the Northwest Carpenters' members are 45 and older. Nationally, the average age of construction workers is in the mid-50s, according to a survey last year by Chicago-based outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

LIUNA head dismisses CCWU certification

click to read full text at Daily Commercial News
With 39 days to go before the end of construction trades Open Season, there is mixed reaction to the Ontario Labour Relations Board decision granting status to the breakaway Canadian Construction Workers Union.

Predictably, Labourers’ International Union of North American Canadian general manager Joseph Mancinelli wasn’t generous with his praise – understandable given the long running battle between himself and the rebel Local 183 which ended when former business manager Tony Dionisio and his loyalist executive were ousted last summer.

Ontario Labour Relations Board okays new construction union

click to read full text at Journal of Commerce
The Ontario Labour Relations Board has conferred status as a union to the breakaway Canadian Construction Workers Union led by Tony Dionisio.

It sets the stage for an intense six weeks of recruiting, raiding, cajoling and persuading, not to mention a head-to-head confrontation with Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 183, Dionisio├é’s former bailiwick.

“I’m thrilled,” said Dionisio, who was ousted as the business manager of Local 183 after a long battle last year. “This is just the beginning. We plan to go forward from today and build a union.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Resistance is not futile, it is necessary

click for full text by Jan Noster - CMAW - Latest News
'Right now, we are rebuilding this union. We're rebuilding because we let it go for the better part of two decades. We're rebuilding because if we don't we're going to be back on the street, competing carpenter against carpenters for who will work cheapest and under the worst conditions.'

UBCJA General President Douglas J. McCarron, from 'Editorial' page 4, The Carpenter Magazine, September 1998

It was these words that I cautiously believed in 1998 when I was serving the UBCJA as its Alberta Director of Organizing in Edmonton.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

B.C union repeats call for special prosecutor to deal with forestry deaths

click for full text by Jeremy Hainsworth, Canadian Press
The United Steelworkers union is repeating calls for a special prosecutor to be appointed to look into what it calls criminally caused forestry industry deaths in B.C.

The call comes days after WorkSafe B.C. levied a $297,000 fine against Weyerhaeuser Canada in connection with the 2004 sawmill death of Lyle Hewer.

Union spokesman Steve Hunt says such a prosecutor is needed under Bill C-45 - also known as the Westray Act after the 1992 Nova Scotia Westray mine explosion that killed 26 miners.

The bill holds employers criminally responsible for negligence which leads to workplace deaths.

Worksafe B.C. says mill management ignored safety concerns and condoned a culture where "complacency in the face of danger became the norm."

The union has sent a letter to Premier Gordon Campbell and Attorney General Wally Oppal saying the need for a prosecutor is urgent.

Friday, March 16, 2007

YouTube - AFSCME

AFSCME organizing video - YouTube
"This is a rare gem. This was a PSA that the voice-over person decided to record an "alternate" version of for fun. This comes from the archives of a local tv station. You won't find this anywhere."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

LRB: CMAW application dismissed

LRB decision opens as a PDF
(the “CHC”)
(the “AHC”, “Local 170”, “Local 97”, “Local 919”, “Local 280” and “Local 1541”, respectively)

For the reason given above I find that the reasoning in CAE and SFU governs CMAW’s application and precludes its success. Accordingly, CMAW’s application is dismissed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The crumbling of Dave Cole's power equation

full text posted on wholeblogXport
(posted on previous letter as a comment on "CEP/CLAC Attack and International Amnesty", 10/3/07 5:43 PM)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

CEP/CLAC Attack and International Amnesty

James E. Smith
Vice President, Canada

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Our wages are under attack in the construction sector!

  • In British Columbia, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union (CEP) have signed low wage agreements covering five pulp and paper mills.

  • In the Alberta tar sands, the CEP is signing sweetheart deals adopting CLAC's collective agreement that undercuts our standard agreement rates and opens the door to temporary foreign workers.

  • The CEP has announced that it intends to enter the construction market across the country and that means undercutting our wages nation-wide. (They have signed a cooperation agreement with the FTQ in Quebec.)

  • This calls for an immediate and decisive response!

  • All construction members are put on notice that they are not to work for companies signed to CEP/CLAC.

  • If you assist CEP/CLAC in undercutting our wages and benefits, you will be held liable. Names of those working CEP/CLAC will be sent by the Canadian Office to your home Local. You may be required to appear before the executive and membership to account for your actions.

  • If you are currently working under a CEP/CLAC agreement, advise your union representative immediately to qualify for an amnesty.

  • Remember that your good wages, benefits, reciprocity and mobility, for which you have fought long and hard, are at risk. Unite in our fight to retain them.

  • Thank you for your cooperation in this important battle. If you have any questions, please raise them with your regional council.

    In solidarity,
    James E. Smith
    Vice-President -- Canada
    5799 Yonge Street - Suite #807 - Willowdale, Ontario, Canada M2M 3V3 - Phone (416)2258885 - Fax: (416)2255390

    this is the result...

    this is the result of searching Google images for coles cep clac:

    click for larger image

    Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    Canada's hottest new import? Employees

    Globe and Mail
    It's not unusual for entire planeloads of foreign workers to be flown straight to the oil-sands projects in northern Alberta.
    A sign hanging outside Calgary-based JIR Solutions reads, 'Get your foreign worker today!'

    The almost one-year-old company specializes in bringing skilled workers to Alberta through its recruiters in the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Britain.

    While some recruitment firms charge the prospective worker thousands of dollars just to line them up with a job in Alberta, JIR president Eric Rudy says his company does not. JIR charges the companies seeking employees a $1,000 administration fee, plus $320 for every month the worker is on contract, and assists newcomers to get settled by helping to find accommodations and introducing them to people who share their heritage.

    Monday, February 26, 2007

    What are they smoking?

    PPWC Local 2 Editorial - Summer 06
    What are they smoking?
    The latest insidious trend is the new JV Driver agreement. This agreement with an outside contractor may well have a serious impact on the next set of negotiations in 2008.

    What is really troubling about the agreement is that a supposedly legitimate union, helped usher in this essentially substandard agreement.

    The agreement allows JVD to become the “Contractor of Choice” for all the Catalyst mills. Its gives JVD the first shot at any work the company intends to contract out. I assume that means that work that used to go through a bidding process to get the best contractor and best deal, will now simply go to JVD. And why not, since JVD with its “Pulp Mill Survival collective agreement” and it’s new employees is allowed to pay substantially less money and benefits to those employees, they should have a much lower cost structure. They are able to pay labourers almost $10 an hour less than labourers in our mill, and certainly much less than similar positions in other building trade certified contractors. They also have a clause that offers more money to their workers if they have no accidents over a certain period of time. So if you have an accident while working for them, you do not get the safety incentive bonus, and your accident may affect the pay of the other people you work with. That certainly is a big incentive to report your injury! This deal can make it harder for us to keep work in our mill as the company now has a cheaper alternative ready just outside the gate. Not only are they sitting outside and waiting for our work, they also have an onsite contact to help them plan on getting our work.

    The distressing thing about this whole deal is the fact that another union helped broker this whole deal with JVD and Catalyst, a union that we used to partner with in province wide negotiations.
    Continued on back page... (click here and scroll to very bottom to finish editorial)
    Page 3
    Summer ‘06
    PPWC Local 2 website

    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    Journeyperson Scaffolders Required Immediately

    download the PDF at the CEP 470 & 777 benefits page
    CEP Local 777 is looking for experienced Journeyperson Scaffolders for long-term work with JVD Mill Services Inc. at the Horizon Oil Sands Project, 80 kms west of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

    The schedule for BC workers at the site is 20 days straight, eight days home. The employer provides free charter flights from Vancouver directly to the site and camp.

    The hours of work are 10 hours per day, with all hours after the seventh paid at the overtime rate of time and a half. In the first and last two days of the cycle (four days in total), the overtime rate starts at the sixth hour.

    Two hundred hours in the cycle are guaranteed as a minimum. Safety bonuses are paid quarterly by automatic deposit.

    There are two Alberta government requirements to working on the project: (1) All members must pass a urine drug test administered and paid for by CNRL; and (2) All members must pass the Alberta Construction Safety Training System (CSTS) course, which is a four-hour computer-guided interactive session conducted at the CEP training centre in Vancouver. This course must be completed before leaving Vancouver for the job site.

    For further information, please email Josh Coles at the address below.
    Josh Coles, Representative
    CEP Western Region
    jcoles(at symbol)

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    CEP Alberta: New Unit Formed at Local 777

    CEP Western Region News - Feb. 07 pdf
    Jan Noster the president of the Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers ( C.M.A.W. ) recently met with new members of CEP Local 777 who are also a part of his group. Attending the meeting as well was Terry Dekker, President of Local 777.

    This unit is quite unique as many of the members are a part of the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) construction wing. They are filling much needed positions at Horizon Construction site in Fort McMurray as a result of an agreement between the FTQ and CEP. There was a large turnout at the meeting with translation provided by one of the members.

    Don MacNeil brought greetings from the National Executive and welcomed the new members into CEP. Jan Noster spoke of the great relationship CEP has with the FTQ and how he wants this relationship to continue to grow. First order of business was electing an interim executive. Several members put their names forward and elections were held. The new executive was sworn in by Brother MacNeil.

    While in Fort McMurray, Jan Noster also met with Dave Drummond , President of CEP Local 707, and the executive to talk informally about what CMAW has planned for the Fort McMurray area.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    CMAW Winter 2007 Newsletter

    Jan Noster
    Click here to go to the link to download a copy of our newsletter in Adobe PDF format.

    Council news
    Volume 1 Issue 1 Winter 2007

    Where do we go from here?

    We must build a modern, progressive, responsive organization that non-union workers want to join and that our members proudly support. Where do we go from here? The best way to build such an organization is to first remember where we’ve been – building trade unions once commanded a monopoly of ICI construction in British Columbia.

    In the early 1980s we saw the rise of the neo-conservatives and the election of the Socreds, as well as the rise of the open shop movement and the emergence of alternative construction unions like CLAC & CISIWU. And we witnessed the failure of the building trades unions to change with the times.

    This led to a slow and steady decline of the power of construction unions. What was once a monopoly has been reduced to a point where today the traditional building trades have a mere 10 to 15 per cent of the ICI construction market. Make no mistake about it – carpenters, construction workers, and workers in general have suffered greatly because of this decline.

    The rest of Canada, with the notable exception of southern Ontario and the province of Quebec, has been unable to shake a trend that started with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan and continues with Stephen Harper and George Bush.

    We have to do things much differently if we are to once again achieve the gains our members deserve and to earn the trust of a majority of construction workers. On page 2, I have identified the immediate priorities that CMAW must address. Thanks for taking the time to read the first edition of our new newsletter, and work safe!

    Name this newsletter and win $200!
    We need a name for our new CMAW newsletter. Come up with the winning entry – the name will be proudly displayed across our newsletter for years to come – and you’ll receive $200. Entries must be received by March 2.

    Receive your newsletter by email
    If you would like to receive your newsletter electronically, send your email address to the CMAW email address below.

    By mail: Construction Maintenance & Allied Workers Union
    305 – 2806 Kingsway
    Vancouver, B.C. V5R 5T5

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    OLRB upholds trusteeship of Universal Workers Union Local 183

    Canada NewsWire
    In a sweeping judgment submitted Jan. 26, 2007, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ruled Labourers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) established 'just cause' for placing Universal Workers Union Local 183 under trusteeship, replacing former business manager Tony Dionisio.

    'It is surely inconsistent with the core values of LIUNA and Local 183 to expend union funds on surreptitious surveillance conducted for the purpose of preserving the positions of those in power,' wrote the OLRB's Norm Jesin. 'It is also inconsistent with those core values to approve the forgery of collective agreements.'

    'I have found that LIUNA has established just cause for the imposition of trusteeship,' Mr. Jesin added.

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    It's open season for union raids

    read full article at Daily Commercial News, Canada - TORONTO
    Contractors fear labour chaos as former Universal Workers Union Local 183 boss Tony Dionisio seems set to raid his former organization and others as open season begins.

    With the three year collective agreement terms expiring April 30, the law allows for a three month “open season” starting today, concurrent with negotiations during which time a union may apply to represent workers.

    For his part, Dioniso denies he has raids in mind, but evidence from other sources seems to indicate the fledgling Canadian Construction Workers Union (CCWU) is already moving in that direction.

    “We’re not worried because we know the membership of Local 183 is disgusted at the former leadership and they have no intention of following such a despicable character,” said Joseph Mancinelli, Canadian general manager of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA).

    “We’ve had our ear to the ground with our members and we’re certain of that.”

    He called Dionisio’s denials he was planning to raid Local 183 for members, “absurd.”

    “He says he has no intentions of raiding but in front of the OLRB at least one of the companies already has agreements with other unions or did under their previous names and the law says there are successor rights” said Mancinelli.

    Last Friday, the Ontario Labour Relations Board set March 19 as a hearing date into the CCWU’s attempts to certify as the union representing PBS General Contractors. While there are only three members of the bargaining unit, it’s a key test case which will establish whether the CCWU can become a bona fide union.

    The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners says it already has a collective agreement in place with the predecessor companies, Target Drywall and Acoustics Ltd. which was sold to Tabrco Management Ltd. The Carpenters argue PBS is in fact the same business, “working out of the same premises, sharing telephone and facsimile numbers and have key persons in common.”

    Sunday, January 28, 2007

    Federal minister says Alberta should outsource work to other provinces

    Labour boss wants our jobs - Calgary Sun, Canada
    As a solution, the minister suggested the oil-rich province outsource projects to businesses elsewhere in the country.

    As a solution, the minister suggested the oil-rich province outsource projects to businesses elsewhere in the country.

    "In construction, you could help make houses in Saskatchewan or New Brunswick and send them to Alberta," he said.

    "Any province could participate in that."

    The annual meeting, attended by all provincial and territorial labour ministers, focused on the workplace safety of young people.

    Blackburn, however, is accustomed to speaking on the nationwide concern of the worker exodus to Alberta.

    "I said the same thing in Calgary," the minister said.

    "I told the mayor of Calgary the solution to the Alberta labour shortage is not to send a plane to our areas, fill the plane with our people, and send them over to Alberta.

    "Then we will have a shortage in our areas."

    Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Assume the position...

    BC union leader arrested in US on drug charge - Vancouver Sun
    Perley Edmund Holmes, business manager of Ironworkers Local 97 in Burnaby, faces drug and conspiracy charges after U.S. Border Patrol officers seized cocaine valued at more than $4 million US in eastern Washington last Thursday night.

    Drug cases sounds familiar - Western Standard- Shotgun Blog, Canada
    Long-time followers of the news can be forgiven for thinking there was something familiar in the Vancouver Sun's report today that the business manager of Ironworkers Local 97 in Burnaby, B.C., is facing drug charges after the U.S. Border Patrol "seized cocaine valued at more than $4 million in eastern Washington" last week.