Sunday, December 09, 2012

Drug tests anger B.C. miners' union

British Columbia - CBC News
Posted: Dec 8, 2012

The giant Teck Mining Company has begun conducting random drug tests on workers at its southeast B.C. mines — a move the miners' union calls outrageous and a violation of rights.

The testing began at five mines in the Elk Valley this week as some workers among the 3,500 coal miners and contractors were randomly selected and asked to urinate into a cup.

It's all about safety, Teck spokesman Nic Milligan said.

“We believe it is a deterrent, and if an employee tests positive, it is not a firing offense. That employee has the opportunity to go for treatment,” Milligan said.

Milligan said dozens of job applicants go through the same process and test positive for drugs every year.

Union incensed

The miners' union is incensed about the tests, calling them an illegal trampling of employee rights.

“I think it's humiliating, degrading and demeaning and I think it's a violation of workers' privacy,” said Alex Hanson, president of United Steelworkers Local 9346.

“It completely obliterates the trust of the employee-employer relationship.”

Hanson said the union will take the issue to the Supreme Court to try to have the testing stopped.

Milligan said the company has taken the employees’ rights into account in carrying out the program.

“We take privacy rights seriously, but we think the random program creates a reasonable balance between privacy and the safety of all our workers.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

There are workers aplenty for Kitimat with the right union

By Ken Lippett, Vancouver Sun

Re: Kitimat smelter project suffers skilled labour shortage, Sept. 10

The Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers (CMAW) has 70 carpenters and apprentices working on site at the Kitimat modernization project (KMP); this is down from a high of 121 carpenters and apprentices in March/April.

The article states that the project is short 50 carpenters.

CMAW has always been able to supply this project with tradespersons, the majority of whom came from northwestern B.C. There is still a supply of tradespersons wishing to work on the project. In addition there are an additional 25-30 applicants per month wishing to join CMAW.

What Colleen Nyce from Rio Tinto/ Alcan (RTA) must be referring to is the inability of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA) to supply carpenters and apprentices to the Kitimat project.

In 2008 RTA's managing contractor, Bechtel, chose to do a deal with the American carpenters union (UBCJA) that attempted to exclude the Canadian union CMAW from the project.

Through a B.C. Labour Relations Board order and a directive from RTA to Bechtel, CMAW was written into the Project Labour Agreement (PLA) as a participant union. There are two separate and distinct carpenters unions on that project.

The CMAW was formed in 2004 when over 95 per cent of the B.C. members of UBCJA voted to leave that union, forming the CMAW, head-quartered in Vancouver and led by an elected board of Canadian tradespersons from Western Canada.

It is the contractors who have no relationship with CMAW who are having the perceived supply problem.

One reason the UBCJA contractors may have a supply problem on the project is that they believed the UBCJA's claim that supply of tradespersons would be no problem.

It is CMAW's opinion that the UBCJA assumed temporarily unemployed CMAW members would come flocking to the UBCJA contractors. This has not happened.

Another issue that aggravates the problem is the distaste the majority of CMAW's members have in working under a UBCJA agreement (an organization they voted overwhelmingly to leave).

The manifestation of this issue is a perceived supply problem.

There is no skills shortage in the carpentry trade in northern B.C.

Ken Lippett First vice-president, CMAW © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read more:

Monday, September 10, 2012

IN MEMORIAL 18 UBCJA Union Carpenters Sept. 11, 2001

SEAN CANAVAN, 39 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1981. Finish/Furniture. Local 608. Father and brother are also UBC members. Survivors include his many beloved nieces and nephews.

MARTIN COUGHLAN, 53 Bayside NY Initiated 1987. Interior Systems. Local 608. Immigrated with family from Ireland in 1987.Wife Catherine; Orla (27),Ailish (24), Sinead (21), Denise (19).

MATTHEW DIAZ, 33 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1998. Floorlayer. Local 2287. Reached safety but returned to help others.Wife Karen; Michael (7), Christopher (3).

PAUL GILL, 34 Astoria NY Initiated 1986. Carpenter. Local 608. Fulltime NYC firefighter lost in the line of duty. Wife Tina; Aaron (14).

MAURICIO GONZALEZ, 27 NYC, NY Initiated 1995. Carpenter. Local 608. Held dozens of skill and safety certifications. Wife Evan; Nina (1).

MAURICE KELLY, 41 Bronx NY Initiated 1980. Interior Systems. Local 157.Acoustical ceilings specialist. Children Danielle (17), Sean (10), Thomas (7).

CHRIS KIRBY, 21 Bronx NY Initiated 1997. Carpenter. Local 608. A third-year apprentice and sports lover.

BENJAMIN MILLMAN, 40 Staten Island NY Initiated 1999. Carpenter. Local 608. Wife Toby; Brandon (14), Maghan (7).

JOSEPH MISTRULLI, 47 Wantagh NY Initiated 1982 Interior Systems. Local 157. Foreman and holder of numerous certifications. Wife Philomena; Joseph (22), Mary (21),Angela (16).

BRIAN MONAGHAN, 21 New York NY Initiated 2001.Apprentice. Local 157. Reached safety but returned to help others

DAVID ORTIZ, 37 Bronx NY Initiated 1998. Carpenter. Local 608. Employed by the Port Authority (NYC transit agency).

, 48 N. Arlington NJ Initiated 1973. Carpenter. Local 157. Immigrated from Poland in 1962. Wife Rosemary; Brian (23), Laura (21), Steven (18).

JOHN RIZZO, 50 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1979. Carpenter. Local 608. Wife Concetta; Giuseppe (20), Luigi (10)

DANIEL ROSETTI, 32 Bloomfield NJ Initiated 2001. Journeyman Carpenter. Local 15 (NJ). Was thrilled to “work above the clouds, close to heaven.” Fiancee Christine Bennett; son Justin (14 mos.)

DAVID RUDDLE, 31 Bronx NY Initiated 1996. Interior Systems. Local 157.The youngest of eight children. Daughter Amanda (11).

STEPHEN RUSSELL, 40 Arverne NY Initiated 1987. Carpenter. Local 45. Fulltime NYC firefighter lost in the line of duty.

, 41 Brooklyn NY Initiated 1987. Journeyman Floorlayer. Local 2287. Children Kathleen and Raymond.

, 36 Staten Island NY Initiated 1996. Furniture Systems. Local 608. Beach goer, dog lover, strong union man. Survived by both parents and two younger brothers.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Commentary: Labor Day and Peter McGuire

Read the full article by Sharon K. Williams

"No festival of martial glory or warrior’s renown is this; no pageant pomp of war-like conquest … attend[s] this day. It is dedicated to Peace, Civilization, and the triumphs of Industry. It is a demonstration of fraternity and the harbinger of a better age—a more chivalrous time, when labor shall be best honored and well rewarded."—Peter McGuire

Peter J. McGuire, a young carpenter, stood before New York’s Central Labor Union on May 12, 1882, to suggest an idea of setting aside one day a year to honor labor. His idea was simple. The day should "be celebrated by a street parade which would publicly show the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organization."
"No festival of martial glory or warrior’s renown is this; no pageant pomp of war-like conquest … attend[s] this day. It is dedicated to Peace, Civilization, and the triumphs of Industry. It is a demonstration of fraternity and the harbinger of a better age—a more chivalrous time, when labor shall be best honored and well rewarded."—Peter McGuire

The trade unionists, enthusiastic about the idea, quickly established a committee to plan the event. The committee chose the first Monday in September because "it would come at the most pleasant season of the year, nearly midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, and would fill a wide gap in the chronology of legal holidays."

McGuire, a man of many talents, became known as the "Father of Labor Day." He was born into a poor family on July 6, 1852, in a Lower East Side tenement in New York City. His working career began at the age of 13. He held many different jobs and was quoted as saying, "I have been everything but a sword swallower…and sometimes I was so hungry, a sword—with mustard, of course—would have tasted fine."

Monday, August 06, 2012

CAW and CEP are exploring the possibility of building a new union together.

New Union Project
The Canadian Auto Workers Union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada are exploring the possibility of building a new union together.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sask. labour shortage 'worst in history,' most non-union employers can't hang on to workers

read the full article at Calgary Herald: More than 80 per cent of Saskatchewan's non-union contractors believe the current labour shortage is the worst in the province's history, with nearly three out of four unable to hire a journeyperson within three months and four out of 10 unable to hire at all.

Merit Contractors Association Saskatchewan, which represent 225 "open-shop'' or non-unionized contractors employing more than 4,000 workers in the province, also said 85 per cent of its member-companies are having difficulty retaining employees.

The association recently commissioned a survey of its members to determine the extent of the labour shortage and its impact on construction activity. Karen Low, executive director of the association, said the survey indicated that the labour shortage was a much bigger problem than previously thought.

"(Until) the last year, even our sector didn't realize how dire it had become,'' Low said. "I don't think anybody anticipated (the growth in construction activity)."

With two-thirds of companies having difficulty retaining skilled employees, combined with the cost of finding and training new employees, the labour shortage is delaying some projects and driving up the cost of construction, she said.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

CAW holds contest to name possible merged union

Windsor - CBC News

A contest in Windsor, Ont., aims to come up with a new name for the Canadian Auto Workers if the union merges with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

The road to a merger hasn't met any bumps yet. The proposal goes to a CAW convention in Toronto next month, and a CEP gathering in October.

CAW Local 444, to which national president Ken Lewenza belongs, is asking for input from union members on an appropriate new name.

"This is a way for them to understand what's happening in regards to the discussions and as we get closer to that merger, there is going to be a name change and our members need to recognize that," said Dino Chiodo, president of the local, which has members working at the Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant, Caesars Windsor and other workplaces in Windsor.

The deadline for name suggestions is early next month.

A committee will choose five top names and send them to the national union.

The merged union is expected to have 325,000 Canadian members.

blog note: back in April ago I suggested to Josh Coles that it be named CAPICE U-- stands for Canadian Auto Paper Industry Communication and Energy Union ...

Monday, July 02, 2012

Union Democracy Under Attack In North West

read the full article at Respect our Crafts
An Assault on Union Democracy
Fighting for the Soul of the Carpenters’ Union
All working people should pay attention to the egregious assault on union democracy happening in the Carpenters Union’s Pacific North West Regional Council, which covers all the Carpenter’s Locals in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has a proud history and should take immediate action to overturn a recent Regional Council decision that disciplined innocent, union-dedicated Carpenters with fines and a loss of membership privileges. Those punished included twelve Carpenters who had recently won elections to lead their local union – mega-Local 156 of Oregon and South West Washington – as well as many regional delegate seats. The newly elected President and Vice President of Local 156 – as well as the other newly elected officers on the slate – are now facing fines up to $1,500 and six years of stripped membership privileges (the Carpenters interviewed for this article chose to remain anonymous, for fear of further retaliation). What were the crimes of these long standing union Carpenters? They held a “get out the vote” phone bank. For this they were charged with:

1) causing dissent in the ranks
2) failure to uphold the union oath
3) defrauding the union.

The real crime of the convicted Carpenters was that they ran a well-organized election campaign promising to reform their union on a pro-democracy basis, and they won.

Their campaign succeeded because they reached out to the union rank and file at the work sites while campaigning to fight for more democracy and transparency in the union and, more importantly, for better contracts by fighting harder against the employers attempts to reduce the standard of living of the membership. The reform group raised all of the money at their disposal at work sites from rank and file Carpenters.

Turmoil had been simmering in the Regional Council for quite some time, since century-old Carpenters locals throughout the state of Oregon and South West Washington were shut down and merged into a “mega-local,” which was done in a way that restricted the democracy previously enjoyed by the smaller locals.

For example, rural carpenters were made to drive hours to attend a union meeting if they wanted a voice in their union, since their local office was closed. Statewide decisions were centralized without the ability of carpenters to participate in the decision making process on a local level. The connectedness that Carpenters felt to their union was removed by hundreds of miles; their personal investment in their union was forcibly made impersonal.

The “mega-local” phenomenon has been a virus running throughout organized labor for years, creating the above, predictable effects. The reform-minded Carpenters saw this happening in their union and fought back against it.

read the rest of the article

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

CSD Construction | Construction unions sign deal to fill gaps in critical construction trades workers across Canada

news release at CNW Canada Newswire
VANCOUVER, June 19, 2012 /CNW/ - Two major unions in the construction industry in Western Canada and Quebec have joined forces to create greater job opportunities for the 27,000 members of the two organizations across Canada.

CMAW, which has members working in the four western provinces, and CSD Construction in Quebec, have formally signed a Mutual Agreement for Cooperation. The immediate goal is to provide CMAW with access to additional skilled construction tradespeople to work on existing CMAW projects in the west, particularly in the Alberta oil sands.

"There are many more constructions jobs opening up in the west, and we simply don't have enough trained and skilled tradespeople to fill those jobs," said CMAW President Jan Noster.

"We invited representatives from CSD Construction to attend our convention in Kelowna, BC on May 8 and 9 of this year, and we learned that they are a highly-democratic and independent union much like ourselves. We could see we would be a good fit, so we made an agreement."

He said that CSD Construction has never been implicated in the bribery, corruption and organized crime allegations which currently plague the Quebec construction industry, and which are now the subject of a public inquiry established by the Quebec government.

Patrick Daigneault, President of CSD construction, said they sought out CMAW because they saw value in establishing a relationship with a large union that was active in the construction industry in the west.

"This agreement will be good for members of our union during slack times in construction in Québec. CMAW has experience working with construction workers from Quebec, and we believe this new relationship will be good for both unions and will provide employers with the skilled trades they desperately need."

CSD members working under a CMAW contract will not pay more dues, and they will be able to have their pension and benefit contributions transferred back to their plans in Quebec. The same arrangements would apply to CMAW workers under a CSD Construction contract.

Both union officials also noted that the agreement will create more jobs in Canada for Canadian workers so employers will not have to rely on temporary foreign workers. The two organizations will also collaborate in expanding the contractor base through inter-provincial organizing, supporting Canadian autonomy for members of US-based unions, and collaborating on craft and safety training.

Noster said CMAW was previously associated with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and had a working relationship with FTQ Construction, but severed both of those relationships last year.

CMAW (Construction, Maintenance & Allied Workers) declared its independence from the US-based International Carpenters Union in 2004, and established itself as an independent union in construction across western Canada, with 7,000 members.

CSD Construction (Syndicat des travailleurs de la construction) was formed 40 years ago as a member-run democratic union representing all crafts in the construction industry in Quebec. It has 25,000 members.
For further information:

Editors: for further information:
CMAW, Jan Noster, President, 604-785-4904
CSD Construction, Patrick Daigneault, Président, 514-899-1029

Sunday, June 17, 2012

One dead and several hurt as concert stage collapses

(overloaded all-around system failure it looks like...)10 photos Montreal Gazette

Friday, June 15, 2012

IBEW, Building Trades Rally Against Attacks by Carpenters

video at UAE Latest Thousands of proud Building Trades members and other union activists rallied in St. Louis on June 15 to tell local Carpenters leader Terry Nelson and UBC General President Doug McCarron to stop attacking the IBEW and stealing its work. IBEW Local 1 is the gold standard of professional excellence for electricians in St Louis. IBEW members are trained in five-year apprenticeships that certify them as master electricians. Members are constantly upgrading their skills and experience as new technologies are introduced. Carpenters Local 57, by contrast, did not comply with federal standards on apprenticeship programs, according to the US Department of Labor. More information can be found at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

BBC World News video CMAW Local 506 Shipbuilder

Working Lives Vancouver: Ship builder

FTQ-Construction | FTQ-Construction and CEP create Canadian Construction Unions Council to speed up recruitment, promote labour mobility, and support job stability

read the full press release at Canada Newswire:
MONTREAL, June 12, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - FTQ-Construction and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP-FTQ) are proposing a new Canada-wide entity to their members: the Canadian Construction Unions Council (CCUC). The new organization will allow recruitment of members across Canada in periods of labour shortages to promote mobility and subsequently increase job stability. The final proposal was approved today by leaders of both labour organizations. The Council could start its activities in the coming months, provided the proposal is approved by members of FTQ-Construction.

The Canadian Construction Unions Council (CCUC) will be the largest group of unions in the country within the construction sector, representing 80,000 workers. It will not only become a major actor on all large construction sites in Canada but also promote sharing best practices between workers of various provinces, as well as labour mobility in times of shortages, with priority to local workers.

"Activity in the Canadian construction industry labour market is keeping a good pace, but each province or territory will continue to experience slowdown periods. That is why, in order to counter the effect of labour shortages, the two labour organizations want to offer greater mobility to their members and thus contribute to full-time employment," said FTQ-Construction President Arnold Guérin. In Québec, the average number of hours worked in construction is only 900 while 1,800 would be required for the equivalent of a full-time job.

"It will be easier for our members to work anywhere in Canada during slack periods. This increases job security, which in turn allows to maintain a better quality of life by protecting earned income," said Yves Ouellet, FTQ-Construction General Manager.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CMAW Convention delegate photo

CMAW Convention in Kelowna a great success

CEP 470 is now CMAW 2020 - back in the Driver's seat

Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Union, Local 2020 -and- Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Bargaining Council consisting of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 470 and British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters on Behalf of its Constituent Locals -and- Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 470 -and- Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada -and- Certain Members of the CEP Local 470 Executive Board

BC LRB Decision as pdf

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CMAW 1928 is CEP 1928 - LRB Decision says fair ball

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada -and- Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 1928 -and- Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Bargaining Council Consisting of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada Local 470 and British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters on behalf of its Constituent Locals -and- Construction, Maintenance and Allied Workers Bargaining Council Consisting of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada Local 470 and British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters on behalf of its Constituent Locals, Local 1928

BC LRB Decision as pdf

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thank a Union: 36 Ways Unions Have Improved Your Life

full text at Daily Kos
36 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Union

All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
Paid Vacation
Sick Leave
Social Security
Minimum Wage
Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)
8-Hour Work Day
Overtime Pay
Child Labor Laws
Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
40 Hour Work Week
Worker's Compensation (Worker's Comp)
Unemployment Insurance
Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
Employer Health Care Insurance
Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
Wrongful Termination Laws
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
Whistleblower Protection Laws
Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS)
Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
Sexual Harassment Laws
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Holiday Pay
Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
Privacy Rights
Pregnancy and Parental Leave
Military Leave
The Right to Strike
Public Education for Children
Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)
Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

(note: many apply to Canada in modified form)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CMAW wins by a landslide with Aluma Systems vote!

This year – and every year – the American controlled, undemocratic UBCJA vainly attempts to convince CMAW members to rejoin the union they left seven years ago.

CMAW members working for Aluma Systems had to endure late night visits from UBCJA organizers, threatening phone calls, and pressure from management to switch unions.

Management was even seen to be wearing pro-UBCJA t-shirts on-site in the days leading up to vote. UBCJA Organizers called CMAW members on their phones that had numbers known only to a few family members and their employer. UBCJA organizers even had to be removed from the parking lot by security at the Chevron refinery in Burnaby.

However, it was no use. CMAW members rejected the bully tactics the UBCJA constantly employs and voted 29-10 for CMAW.

For those members who supported us, we thank you for your support. As well, CMAW will continue to work hard to convince those who voted otherwise that their Brothers they work with each day made the right choice. As we move forward, CMAW continues to grow and offer superior collective agreements and representation to its members.

For more information about CMAW, please feel encouraged to contact Jan Noster and Paul Nedelec at 604.437.0471.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Waking up from an asbestos nightmare

read full article at The Montreal Gazette
Asbestos was an economic dream for Quebec for more than a century; the towns of Thetford and Asbestos grew around the mines rather than vice versa. Quebec companies also produced brake pads, textiles, paper and concrete pipes made with asbestos, employing thousands of workers.

But the dream began to morph into a nightmare in the 1960s when medical science revealed much higher cancer rates among mine workers in Thetford Mines than in the general population. The world learned that when asbestos dust is breathed in, the tiny fibres become lodged in lung tissues and other internal organs, where they remain. Then, decades later, came news that those fibres can cause fatal diseases, like asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer and other forms of cancer.

Today, exposure to asbestos is the single biggest cause of work-related deaths in Quebec. In 2009, more than half of the deaths compensated by the Quebec Workers Compensation Board - 102 of 185 - were a result of asbestos exposure. Higher death tolls are expected in the future because it can take decades (after exposure) for fatal asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma to develop.

While rules for protection of asbestos miners are much more stringent now, workers here and abroad continue to be exposed to asbestos dust when buildings are demolished or renovated, or when work is done on roads, water pipes and other infrastructure that has been reinforced with asbestos, or when natural disasters or terrorist attacks cause buildings to collapse.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NY: In blow to contractors, gaffe stalls union vote

read full article at Crain's New York Business Under the tentative agreements, employers would no longer be required to hire at least one-third of their workers via union referrals, and would instead be free to select any member of the union to work for them. Contractors have argued that so-called full mobility will save them money by increasing productivity, but union members contend that it will kill important protections like seniority and could lead to discrimination. Union members also say that the national union has pressed for the change because it will help it avoid the deluge of National Labor Relations Board charges filed by workers who challenge the union's role in hiring decisions. But now the future of full mobility, and indeed the contracts themselves, remain up in the air.