November 6, 2018Fact 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

Updates 

Follow our campaign here to stay up-to-date on the news about Project Labour Agreements. 

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