Bill 80: almost two years later, is it working?In July of 2010, the Government of Saskatchewan ratified rat·i·fy
tr.v. rat·i·fied, rat·i·fy·ing, rat·i·fies
To approve and give formal sanction to; confirm. See Synonyms at approve. amendments to the Construction Industry Labour Relations labour relations (US), labor relations npl → relations fpl dans l'entreprise
labour relations labour npl → Beziehungen pl Act (CILRA) through Bill 80. The amendments allowed unions who were not designated by the Minister to make application to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board to represent workers within the construction industry and further allowed a trade union to organize an appropriate unit of employees, which may be a multi-trade or "all employee" unit, as well as a craft or single-trade unit.
Essentially, Bill 80 ended the requirement that unionized construction workers belong to their specific trade's provincially-appointed trade union.
In April 2010, James Clancy James Clancy (July 21 1844 – January 10 1921) was an Ontario farmer, businessman and political figure. He represented Kent West in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1883 to 1894 and Bothwell in the Canadian House of Commons from 1896 to 1904 as a Conservative member. , President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE NUPGE National Union of Public and General Employees (Canada) ) stated that, "The Saskatchewan labour movement is fighting an important battle to stop the pro-business government of Premier Brad Wall Brad Wall (born November 24, 1965 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan) is a Canadian politician, leader of the Saskatchewan Party, and leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. from destabilizing the construction industry by wiping out a number of key provisions that now apply to building trade unions across the province ... The bill would permit wall-to-wall certifications of a job site instead of having all unionized construction workers belong to the union associated with their trade. It will also open the door to unions not currently allowed to organize in Saskatchewan's construction sector, among other changes:' At that time, NUPGE suggested that the bill would:
* Let contractors-not workers-choose the union to represent workers.
* Lead to lower wages for construction workers.
* End province-wide collective agreements and destabilize de·sta·bi·lize
tr.v. de·sta·bi·lized, de·sta·bi·liz·ing, de·sta·bi·liz·es
1. To upset the stability or smooth functioning of: the construction industry.
* End the practice of organizing along trade-specific lines.
* Invite the pro-business and mislead-ingly-named Christian Labour Association of Canada The Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) was established in 1952 and is an independent, multi-sector, multi-craft trade union representing Canadian workers on the basis of "Christian social principles. (CLAC CLAC Convergence des Luttes Anti-Capitalistes (Canada)
CLAC Christian Labour Association of Canada
CLAC Civil Liberties Action Committee (Guyana)
CLAC Comunità per le Libere Attività Culturali ) into Saskatchewan to negotiate employer-friendly deals in which workers will have no say.
* Allow unionized employers to shed their union certifications through "abandonment" provisions.
It has been almost two years since Bill 80 was passed. Have the concerns of the NUPGE and other unions been proven out? Have contractors been manipulating or choosing the unions for workers? Have lower wages become a reality for Saskatchewan workers? Has the construction industry become destabilized? Do the workers have less say? Have unionized workers shed their unions?
We polled some of the key players in the construction sector in the province and put these questions to them.
PCL CONSTRUCTION PCL Constructors Inc. (PCL) is one of the largest general contracting organizations in Canada and the US. The company is active in the commercial, institutional, multi-family residential, heavy industrial and civil construction sectors.
"Basically; Bill 80 has had no [negative] effect on our business. We have doubled in every way over the past two years, I believe that Bill 80 happened to land at a period in time where our industry was just getting ready to take off."
"Prior to the bill passing, the unions made it sound as if this was going to negatively impact their ability to do worker training (such as safety), but the industry is directly responsible for training."
"From an employer's point of view, Bill 80 leveled the playing field as far as representation of workers. We can now do what we do in other areas of Canada ... there is greater provincial compatibility. In a buoyant Buoyant
The term used to describe a commodities market where the prices generally rise with ease when there are considerable signals of strength.
These types of markets can be very volatile as the prices are rapid to rise and fall with investor sentiment. economy, we need fewer deterrents. Only one union choice is a deterrent. We needed greater mobility of labour to meet demand. Bill 80 has allowed greater mobility of labour across provincial and even national borders."
"I think there has been very little effect on Westridge directly. One larger contractor has entered Saskatchewan that we have to compete with, but I am not sure that they would not have come anyway. When people talk about the booming construction sector in Saskatchewan, they have to remember that it is still a small sector. Saskatchewan at $14 billion is maybe twice what it was 5 years ago, but that is still much smaller than Alberta's $78 billion. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over time, and where companies find their niche. If a firm's niche is the $100 million dollar contract range, well, we just don't have many of those."
STUART OLSEN DOMINION CONSTRUCTION
"There has been no impact. We have simply continued to maintain our labour peace in all our relationships. We try to keep wages and benefits balanced. About 80 per cent of our workforce is unionized, and union and non-union work side by side in harmony. The economic climate is such that we are short in every trade across the province. I know that this was one of the fears (lower wages) back when the bill got passed, but wages are at a premium!"
"It is kind of funny that we are having this discussion." continues Mark Ouellette, Saskatchewan vice president with Stuart Olsen. "As I look back over the past year and a half, I can't think of any real discussions I have been involved in regarding (Bill 80). There just has not been any issue at all."
SASKATCHEWAN BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL
"The Government has implemented (Bill 80); it is done. It's a reality, we are going to work through it and we are going to thrive. We're the best in the industry and we are going to prove it one way or another. We are private sector unions and we understand what it is like to have to compete. However, we do have some contractors asking for wage concessions due to our competition with CLAC."
SASKATCHEWAN CONSTRUCTION ASSOCIATION
"We anticipated that the changes contained within Bill 80 would be incremental, and they really have been. It has been quiet and ripple-free. CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada) has set up an office in the province, but we have heard of no organizing activity within our membership. There have been no major changes due to Bill 80. We continue to see a strong harmonious industry going forward."
CHRISTIAN LABOUR ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (CLAC)
"We're still supportive. It (Bill 80) has accomplished what it set out to do ... more competition in the union environment. For many years, the province did not know competition in the union environment. We support a pluralistic plu·ral·is·tic
1. Of or relating to social or philosophical pluralism.
2. Having multiple aspects or parts: "the idea that intelligence is a pluralistic quality that ... approach and are opposed to a monopoly. Competition makes us all better."
"Merit was a supporter of Bill 80 and we are proud of our government for sticking with it. There has been no negative effect.
LEDCOR, a CLAC company, has moved into the province, and others have set up here as well, so there is a bit more competition. We are in a strong economy, and there is so much work that we needed this to happen. We (Merit) have experienced a 66 per cent increase in hours remitted from 2010-2011, predominantly from new hires. We have also seen wages increase at least 5 per cent per year for the last few years. It's a supply and demand market, skills are short and wages are high."
"I believe that Bill 80 has created a more stable environment. There is less uncertainty due to the new abandonment provisions contained in the bill. The reduction of uncertainty will help investment to continue in the province. Prior to Bill 80, there was no provision for abandonment, therefore there was a potential liability which could completely sink a company. It could cost a small company hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a large company millions."
GOOD OR BAD?
Whether Bill 80 had created the current impacts, no one can say, but there is no doubt that the province's construction sector has continued to grow in strength over the past 20 months.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Saskatchewan Construction Association, there are 9,442 apprentices working in Saskatchewan trades as of June 30, 2011. This is up from 5,436 in June of 2005. There is also expected to be 6,100 new apprentice A person who agrees to work for a specified time in order to learn a trade, craft, or profession in which the employer, traditionally called the master, assents to instruct him or her. seats this year, which is up 600 from just 2 years ago. The overall construction workforce has grown by 7,600 positions in the last four years (2007-2011), an increase of 23.4 per cent. Weekly average earnings for the industry were $1,147.30 (December 2011), which is the third-highest wage rate among Saskatchewan industries. There has been growth in both residential and non-residential sectors.
While the companies within the construction industry seem to feel that Bill 80 is a good thing, the unions seem to have differing opinions. In an article in Regina's Leader-Post back in June of 2009, the CEP CEP congenital erythropoietic porphyria.
congenital erythropoietic porphyria "heartily endorsed" Bill 80. In the same article, Josh Coles, CEP's national construction strategy coordinator is quoted as saying, "We just want to be able to put ourselves on the menu and help defend workers if they so choose us ... 80 per cent of Saskatchewan's construction industry is currently non-unionized. There's plenty of room for more unionization without pitting union versus union."
So, in the end, is Bill 80 good or bad for Saskatchewan? Is it bad for the employees in the construction sector, or does it just increase options for employee representation, essentially introducing union competition? Is there a difference to what Bill 80 will mean in a strong economy and a weaker economy? In the present economy, the current lack of tradespeople trades·peo·ple
1. People engaged in retail trade.
2. Skilled workers.
Noun 1. tradespeople - people engaged in trade seems to be maintaining upward pressure on wages and benefits. Only time will tell as far as the future is concerned.
One part of the story revealed by the issue of Bill 80 is the strength and harmony of the entire construction industry within Saskatchewan. Maybe this is due to the presence of "good of boys." as several of the interviews inferred, that "people are realistic, and understand the limits to what is available for wages and benefits. We all just want what is fair. The industry has been like this for decades, the whole industry has been kept in sync."
Indeed, this is an industry where contract negotiations can be brief lunch meetings to check in with trades and ensure that the needs of others are being met.
There is no question that the industry is in an enviable en·vi·a·ble
So desirable as to arouse envy: "the enviable English quality of being able to be mute without unrest" Henry James. position within our present economy, with significant ongoing growth anticipated for at least a decade or more.