New Name, Same Bad Bill

Earlier this fall, thousands of Manitoban workers came together to say no to Brian Pallister’s proposed Bill 28, because it represented a real threat to our livelihoods and on-the-job safety.

When the government failed to advance the bill to its second reading, we thought they had listened to our concerns.

We thought they that realized attempting to ban project labour agreements goes against public interests and serves only fly-by-night contractors. After all, these agreements are the best way to guarantee that Manitoban projects create jobs for Manitobans. Since the 1960s, governments all stripes have used these agreements to give all workers on public infrastructure projects the same fair wages, same safety standards and training opportunities.

Instead, the Pallister government has decided to press ahead with this risky legislation by re-introducing it under a different name. Bill 4 is Bill 28. Both bills take us backwards to a time when out-of-province workers could be brought in to build sub-par infrastructure. We can’t afford to go back to that.

Earlier this month, I attended the PC Convention in Brandon and was pleasantly surprised to not hear Premier Pallister address Bill 28 in his remarks. PC members were not focused on this solution in search of a problem. They, like all Manitobans, want local projects to benefit Manitoba people.

We thought Premier Pallister had listened. But we were wrong. Make no mistake: this new legislation is just as destructive as the old.

We need your help to continue pressing the Pallister government to realize this fact. It’s not too late to change course. We encourage you to tell a friend or colleague by forwarding them this note or linking them to letsbuildmb.ca.

Yours in solidarity,

Sudhir Sandhu,

Chief Executive Officer, Manitoba Building Trades

Fact Check: Brian Pallister’s Government is Misleading Manitobans

Brian Pallister’s Government is Misleading Manitobans

Nearly 2,000 Manitobans have written their government asking Brian Pallister to stop Bill 28. Manitobans have urged the government to withdraw Bill 28 and have made a strong case that this bill is bad for local jobs, project quality and workplace safety.

So far, the government has not addressed any of the legitimate concerns we have raised. Instead, the Acting Deputy Minister of Infrastructure has been sending a letter to concerned Manitobans. In his letter, the Acting Deputy repeats the same misleading facts the government used as justification for Bill 28.

You may have received a reply to your letter to your MLA. We have fact-checked each claim the government has made below. Some of the claims made by Scott Sinclair are stated in italics below along with our comments that explain the facts.

Claim:

  • “The goal of Bill 28, The Public Sector Construction Projects (Tendering) Act, is to ensure that all companies and workers, regardless of union affiliation, have an equal opportunity to bid and work on provincially-tendered infrastructure projects. By maximising competition for work on these projects, Bill 28 will ensure that the government can obtain the best value-for-money for Manitobans.”

Facts:

  • Non-union and union contractors have always had an equal right to bid on all Manitoba projects. 77 per cent of contractors at the Floodway Project and the ongoing Keeyask projects have been non-union contractors.
  • PLAs add predictability by providing a common human resource environment with consistent labour standards, wages and procedures while guaranteeing there will be no strikes or lockouts. Projects that are poorly coordinated, subject to labour disruption and reliant on unskilled work do not save money.
  • All workers at PLA projects pay union dues for the wages and benefits earned; workers have no obligations to remain unionized after the project is completed. These dues help pay for the training and workforce development carried out by unions. In 2017 alone, Manitoba unions spent more than $6 million private dollars in training and workforce development.

Claim:

  • “With respect to project labour agreements (PLAs), Bill 28 does not ban such agreements as suggested. Companies bidding for work will continue to be free to enter into a PLA with one or more unions to carry out the work should their bid be successful. What will change under Bill 28 is that government departments and agencies will no longer be able to require that bidders must sign a PLA, or ratify that they be affiliated with a particular union in order to be awarded work. Instead, all companies will be free to compete for work regardless of the labour relations model they use.”

Facts:

  • PLAs do not force unionization. Non-union contractors have never been required to sign a union agreement. Manitoba has never had a law requiring PLAs. Bill 28 is banning the use of PLAs, even though there has never been a law requiring their use.
  • In fact, Progressive Conservative Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade Blaine Pedersen told the legislature on June 28, 2016, “There is no forced unionization on a project labour agreement. In a project labour agreement, there is not a compulsion to join the union.
  • The government keeps pushing the myth that non-union workers and contractors were shut out from bidding on or working at public construction projects. That has never ever been true.

Claim:

  • “The construction industry, the labour markets, and the legislative environment have grown since project labour agreements were introduced as a construction contracting practice. In Manitoba, we have a strong construction sector in a legal environment that recognises the value of quality building standards and safety for workers. Going forward, labour costs will be derived from market value. The benefit to Manitoba is the best product at the best price, which becomes possible when qualified workers have equal access publicly funded construction projects.”

Facts:

  •  “Market value” is often cited by the Pallister government as a good reason for Bill 28. What the government really means is that special interest groups want to drive down wages for Manitobans and also to bring in more out-of-province workers.
  • They say the public will save money. The truth is that these special interest groups will not pass on any savings to Manitobans. They only want to cut wages and improve their profit margins. Bill 28 will help special interest make more money by paying Manitoba workers less.

The government’s response letter is signed by:

Scott Sinclair
Acting Deputy Minister
Manitoba Infrastructure

While we appreciate the response from Acting Deputy Minister Sinclair, Premier Pallister is the driving force behind this legislation. He owes Manitobans an explanation.

Visit letsbuildmb.ca to learn more.

Yours in solidarity,

Sudhir Sandhu
Chief Executive Officer, Manitoba Building Trades

Manitoba projects for Manitoba people

Not so long ago, major infrastructure projects in Northern Manitoba had very different consequences for Indigenous communities. Most often, construction projects, particularly hydro installations, meant displacement and hardship for northern communities and generated few jobs for affected residents.

The project would be tendered out, and the contractor in charge would bring in workers from elsewhere. Some came from across Manitoba and often, they were from outside the province. Even when projects were covered by project labour agreements (PLAs), as many as 60% of workers for some projects weren’t from Manitoba.

On projects like the Limestone Hydro Dam, 60% of the workers weren’t from Manitoba. Why didn’t these jobs go to Northern Indigenous workers? This project was in their own back yard. They had a knowledge of the area, and a natural ability to work and thrive amidst the surrounding elements. They also cared more than anyone about making sure our infrastructure was built to last.

Things began to change when PLAs strengthened by adding more stringent local hiring requirements that gave preference to Indigenous workers and to Manitobans. With stricter hiring rules, more Manitobans got jobs at infrastructure projects like the Floodway expansion, East Side Road and at newer hydro dam construction projects.

Ron Castel is an Indigenous Labour Relations/Outreach Coordinator with Manitoba Building Trades and a member of Pukatawagan First Nation from Leaf Rapids. SM

PLAs with local hiring preferences helped and thousands of Manitobans got good jobs that supported the workers and their families. This included hundreds of Indigenous workers who finally got a chance to do meaningful work.

Today, Brian Pallister’s government wants to ban these agreements.

But I have seen firsthand how workplace culture and productivity changed when we started giving quality jobs and training opportunities to people who actually live in the north or in Indigenous communities. That’s why I know how important it is to stop Bill 28 and save PLAs.

When I think about PLAs, I think of the adage that if you teach a man to fish, he will never go hungry. Similarly, when you offer a young person training on the job, and help them to develop skills, it doesn’t just benefit their future — it benefits their entire community.

They take their money, and they spend it in Flin Flon, or Thompson, or the Pas. And the next time they want to build a school, they have the skills to do it from within their own community. It takes time to create a skilled workforce, but if we’re not creating the right opportunities we will perpetually be forced to offload local jobs to workers from outside the province.

Manitoba’s Indigenous communities have an unemployment rate more than twice as high as the general population. In many areas, there are already considerable challenges in finding meaningful work and opportunities for advancement. PLAs can deliver these opportunities to the people who need them most.

Another benefit of these agreements is that they guarantee the same standards of safety and opportunity for everybody working on a construction site.

If you haven’t worked on a job site (and I’m guessing that Premier Pallister hasn’t), you wouldn’t know how important this is. Without this equality, resentment and mistrust can spread, turnover is higher, and delays end up increasing the cost of the overall project.

Instead of pursuing quality of life for our communities and quality of build for our infrastructure, Brian Pallister wants to bring us back to a time when all that mattered was the immediate bottom line. But there is still time to reverse course, save project labour agreements, and stop Bill 28.

Premier Pallister may feel indebted to special interest groups and out-of-province construction companies, but he was elected by ordinary people who depend on local job opportunities and quality infrastructure.

Before moving forward with Bill 28, I hope he speaks to those who depend on local job sites for learning and empowerment. He may learn that Manitobans can’t afford this legislation. And as somebody seeking re-election in two year’s time, neither can he.

Workers Call On Pallister Government to Stop Bill 28

Controversial bill expected to hurt local training and employment opportunities.

(October 3, 2018, Winnipeg, MB) Today, over 130 local skilled construction and trade
professionals rallied at the Manitoba legislature to voice their opposition to Bill 28. Bill 28, which
would ban project labour agreements (PLAs) on public-sector infrastructure projects, is
expected to negatively affect local jobs, project safety and construction quality.

PLAs were first introduced in Manitoba by Premier Duff Roblin to mandate quality and labour
predictability on public sector infrastructure projects. Since his time, successive governments of
all parties, as well as private sector builders, have relied on PLAs.

“PLAs are a Tory legacy that have worked for Manitobans for decades,” said Sudhir Sandhu,
chief executive officer of Manitoba Building Trades. “For years, these agreements have moved
the goalposts on construction builds from cost only to cost plus quality, ultimately creating more
jobs for Manitobans. The Pallister government’s move to ban PLAs is short-sighted and will
ultimately hurt the quality and safety of our projects.”

Christina Thiessen, a journeymen steamfitter with United Association of Local 254 also spoke at
the event.

“I don’t know why Premier Pallister is coming after us,” she said. “If he proceeds to
advance this bill, job and training opportunities for local workers, particularly those in
underrepresented groups like women, Indigenous people and northerners, will be placed
directly at risk.”

About Manitoba Building Trades

Manitoba Building Trades (MBT) represents the common goals of more than 8,000 construction
and trades professionals in 13 member unions to deliver safe, skilled and highly productive
labour. MBT delivers cost competitive skilled labour while maintaining the highest standards of
training, wages and benefits and workplace safety. In partnership with other provincial councils
MBT is part of a network of over 500,000 Canadian construction professionals.

About Bill 28

Bill 28, the Public Sector Construction Projects (Tendering) Act, was introduced in the Manitoba
legislature this past May by Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler. The bill, which is expected to be
debated this fall legislative session, would ban PLAs, if passed.

Media Contact
Tanya Palson
Manitoba Building Trades
tpalson@mbtrades.ca
O: (204) 956-7425
D: (204) 619-2068

Rally to Stop Bill 28. Join us on October 3rd.

Yesterday marked the official start of our Stop Bill 28 campaign. We sent a clear message to Premier Pallister that Manitoba’s skilled workers reject this risky legislation.

While yesterday was a success, there’s still a lot of work to be done including our rally at the Legislative Building on October 3rd. Only through a sustained effort can we persuade Brian Pallister and his caucus to stop this bill.

When: Wednesday October 3, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, 450 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8

What: By introducing Bill 28, Brian Pallister is picking a fight with all of Manitoba’s skilled workers, union and non-union. Come show your support as we fight back by speaking to the government about the importance of Project Labour Agreements. Lunch is on us, including hot dogs, burgers, coffee and cold drinks. The first 100 attendees will receive a free “Stop Bill 28” t-shirt.

What to bring: We encourage you to wear your worksite apparel including hard hats, safety vests and work boots.

Manitoba’s Skilled Workers Say No to Bill 28

Manitoba’s Skilled Workers Say No to Bill 28

Pallister government bill expected to end local hiring practices for Manitoba construction projects

(September 25, 2018, Winnipeg, MB) Today, Manitoba Building Trades, which represents over 8,000 construction and trade professionals, expressed its unequivocal opposition to Bill 28, anti-labour legislation introduced by Brian Pallister’s government this past spring.

The bill, which is expected to be debated in the fall legislative sitting, would ban Project Labour Agreements on public infrastructure projects. Project Labour Agreements are used by both governments and private sector builders across North America to prioritize local jobs, project safety and construction quality.

“We’re loudly and clearly sending a message that publicly-funded construction projects should put Manitoba workers and communities first,” said Sudhir Sandhu, Chief Executive Officer of Manitoba Building Trades. “Brian Pallister’s government may feel pressure from out-of-province construction companies, but this is a bad deal for local workers. And it’s a deal we can’t afford.”

Attendees of the event were in strong agreement that cutting corners on labour cannot and should not be the way for Brian Pallister’s government to find savings. “We know that cheap labour is not skilled and skilled labour is not cheap,” said Marc Lafond, President of Manitoba Building Trades. “If our government cuts corners on training and hiring of local workers that build our schools, hospitals and infrastructure, we all lose in the long run.

Manitobans who wish to learn more about the campaign to Stop Bill 28 are encouraged to visit https://letsbuildmb.ca.

About Manitoba Building Trades

MBT represents the common goals of more than 8,000 construction and trades professionals in our 13 member unions to deliver safe, skilled and highly productive labour. Its advocacy is based on the belief that unionized construction labour is the most competitive alternative for public and private project proponents in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors. MBT delivers cost competitive skilled labour while maintaining the highest standards of training, wages and benefits and workplace safety.

MBT’s members and project partners have built and delivered essential infrastructure that supports the economy and future of Manitoba and Canada. In partnership with other provincial councils MBT is part of a network of over 500,000 Canadian construction professionals.

Media Contact

Tanya Palson

Manitoba Building Trades

tpalson@mbtrades.ca

O: (204) 956-7425

D: (204) 619-2068

 

We’re Ready. Join our Launch Event.

We’re ready.

On September 25th, we will be launching our campaign to Stop Bill 28. Please join us as we present a united front against Brian Pallister’s government. Your attendance will further strengthen our message.

Where 
1919 General Strike Monument
(Near the intersection of Market Avenue and Lily Street
)

When
September 25, 10:00AM CST

If you’re unable to attend, you can still contribute by visiting letsbuildmb.ca and using the form to send a message to Premier Pallister’s government. The form will be available on Sept. 24

If you’re just getting up to speed on the campaign, here’s some background.

Last spring, Brian Pallister’s government introduced Bill 28, which will ban Project Labour Agreements (PLAs). PLAs are agreements that ensure Manitobans build Manitoba. They safeguard fair wages, safety standards and stable employment opportunities for everyone.

Without PLAs, government will inherit unknown risks, including uncertainty over costs, quality and timelines on Manitoba construction sites.

An open door to cut corners on labour costs may be good news for out-of-province developers, but our job sites depend on highly-trained employees with living wages and relevant apprenticeship opportunities.

Bill 28 cuts into the strength of our workforce and makes our skilled workers pay the price for Premier Pallister’s risky maneuver. Say no to Bill 28.

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