B.C. Premier John Horgan announced July 16, 2018 that key infrastructure projects would be built under a new Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which includes quotas for apprentices, preferential hiring of women and Indigenous workers, and a stipulation that workers on the projects must be unionized. The first two projects covered by the agreement are the Pattullo Bridge replacement project and widening of the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to Alberta.
Government ministers have since said the Pattullo Bridge and Trans-Canada Highway projects may not be the only projects covered by the CBA.
VRCA does not support this CBA because of the way it’s been negotiated and its potential impact on industry.
There has been a lack of full industry consultation. The CBA is an agreement between the provincial government and select trade unions. Only government and those unions are signatories to the agreement.
The CBA model is prescriptive in that it requires all individuals working under the CBA to join the affiliated unions immediately (and to have their union membership paperwork complete within 30 days of working on the project), and all companies working on CBA projects to secure their labour force from the new crown corporation, BC Infrastructure Benefits Inc.
We believe community benefits agreements can be a useful public policy tool, provided there is adequate industry engagement prior to their roll-out. This CBA did not include adequate industry engagement.
Ongoing, active advocacy.
The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) and the four regional construction associations are promoting a letter-writing campaign aimed at members of the B.C. legislature. The campaign includes letter templates to help trades people and employers in B.C.’s construction industry express their concern about the CBA. Send a letter.
- During a Dec. 13 meeting about Canadian tariffs and safeguards on imported steel with the Hon. Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s minister of jobs, trade and technology, Minister Raltson asked VRCA’s delegation about the association opposition to the Community Benefits Agreement. Minister Ralston expressed interest in scheduling a future meeting to further explore VRCA’s concern with the CBA. Read VRCA’s follow-up letter to the minister.
- During the Oct. 17 Division meeting, members were told there are many questions about the Community Benefits Agreement that can’t be answered by reading the agreement itself. Based on member feedback, VRCA compiled a list of these questions and sent them to the BCCA to raise at its meeting with BC Infrastructure Benefits (BCIB) on Oct. 29. Following this meeting, BCCA assembled and posted answers to the questions online Nov. 8. The compiled answers have neither been approved nor rejected by BCIB and the provincial government. Read more.
- BCCA hosts a series of four town hall meetings – one for each of the regional construction associations. VRCA’s meeting was September 19.
- BCCA and the four regional construction associations launched a letter-writing campaign aimed at member of the B.C. legislature. The campaign includes letter templates to help trades people and employers in B.C.’s construction industry express their concern about the CBA. Send a letter.
- VRCA joins legal challenge of Building Trades Union-only requirement. VRCA is part of a coalition that filed a petition in the B.C. Supreme Court on August 27 asking that the NDP government’s Building Trades Union-only hiring model for public infrastructure projects be struck down. Read more.
- VRCA President Fiona Famulak signs an op-ed entitled: “It’s time to stand together for B.C.’s construction industry.” The op-ed was published in the Journal of Commerce August 13. Read more.
- The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) issued a statement decrying the policy decision behind B.C.’s Community Benefits Agreement. Read more.
- VRCA joined a coalition of business associations and non-affiliated unions in signing an open letter to Premier John Horgan demanding his government abandon its announced Community Benefits Agreement. Read more.
- VRCA issues statement opposing the CBA announced by Premier John Horgan. Read more.