We are all trying to build something.

Manitoba Building Trades understands that Bill 4 removes protections and opportunities for Manitoba’s skilled trades workers – both union and non-union.

Brian Pallister’s commitment to ban Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) shows that he does not support skilled trades workers in the province. The government’s agenda to award projects through cost-based procurement is a race to the bottom paid for off the backs of hard-working, skilled trades professionals.

Project cost savings shouldn’t be found in the pockets of workers. Removing CBAs create an opportunity for contractors to pay workers less, reduce benefits, and seek lower-wage workers from out of province – impacting training and employment opportunities for Manitoba’s local skilled trades workers.

The Progress Conservative government is failing to understand the day to day sacrifice made by our skilled trades professional. A sacrifice our workers make to build the essential infrastructure of our province.

That Manitoba’s skilled trade workers and their communities are supported – should not be too much to ask.

After all, We are all trying to build something.

NDP steps up to support skilled trades workers.

NDP steps up to support workers – delays Bill 4 to fall session.

Earlier this week the NDP announced that they would be carrying Bill 4 over into the fall session, officially removing The Public Sector Construction (Tendering) Act from the legislative agenda this spring. 

View the full NDP statement.

This announcement is an important step forward in our collective fight against Bill 4 (formerly Bill 28). If brought into law, Bill 4 would ban the use of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs). These agreements are a tool to protect workers, provide opportunity, and support local communities. 

The Progressive Conservative government’s agenda to award projects through cost-based procurement is a race to the bottom paid for off the backs of hard-working, skilled trades professionals.

Cheap labour isn’t skilled, and skilled labour isn’t cheap. 

While the delay is good news, we know that the bill will return this fall. We need your continued support. 

Ways you can help

  • Spread the word about our petition against Bill 4. 
  • Share our website www.letsbuildmb.ca 
  • Follow us on social media, and share posts from our campaign.
  • Share this post on your own social media.

Twitter: @mbtrades.

Facebook: @manitobabuildingtrades

How we plan to Keep Building Manitoba.

Campaign update.

Last fall we received outpouring support from you and the entire building trades community during our campaign against Premier Pallister’s bill to ban the use of Project Labour Agreements in Manitoba. We thank all of you who followed the campaign and spoke up against a bill that will reduce opportunity and wages for skilled workers in Manitoba.

Despite our best efforts, and a petition signed over 2400 times to end this bill, Brian Pallister’s government has remained committed to putting Manitoba’s skilled workers at risk. We wanted to make sure you, our supporters, know we aren’t giving up the fight. But, we are taking a different approach.

Across the country, we see more and more jurisdictions introduce Community Benefits Agreements. These agreements are merely a different name for the same concept. Project Labour Agreements, which we have been fighting to protect, are Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs).

If Brian Pallister’s government is set on ignoring the interests and livelihoods of thousands of Manitoba’s skilled trades workers, then we owe it to you, and the rest of Manitoba, to be very clear about what we will be losing if Bill 4 were to pass.


What are Community Benefits Agreements? 

  • Community Benefits Agreements maximise value from public tax dollars spent on infrastructure by bringing thousands of Manitobans into the middle class.


  • Community Benefits Agreements set standards for jobs, wages, and safety on job sites.


  • Community Benefits Agreements ensure Manitoba’s skilled workers have access to high-skilled, high-paying jobs.


  • Community Benefits Agreements help provide access to training, apprenticeships and career advancement for youth, women, and Indigenous peoples.


  • Community Benefits Agreements are a tool for poverty reduction, regional economic development, and workforce sustainability.


Here’s how you can continue to help:

  • Learn more about the good that Community Benefits Agreements do for Manitoba by visiting our website: www.letsbuildmb.ca


  • Last year, we sent over 2,200 letters to MLAs about this issue. Sign up again to submit an updated message to your MLA showing your support for Community Benefits Agreements, and please encourage your friends and family to do the same by visiting www.letsbuildmb.ca and filling out the form.


  • Continue to follow and share content from our new campaign on Facebook and Twitter. 

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.


  • “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.”


  • 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.


  • “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.”


  • 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.


  • “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.”


  •  “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
O: (204) 956-7425
D: (204) 619-2068


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