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.
UPDATE: The $2.83 billion Broadway Subway project, which will add 5.7 kilometres and six stations to the Millennium Line between VCC-Clark and Arbutus Street in Vancouver, will be built as a CBA project, the provincial government announced Feb. 15, 2019.
Ongoing, active advocacy.
VRCA is part of a coalition of construction associations, construction companies, construction workers, progressive unions and business associations that has filed a petition in the Supreme Court of B.C. challenging the provincial government’s labour framework for building key infrastructure projects.
The coalition involved in the legal challenge includes: VRCA, The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, British Columbia Construction Association, the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, the Christian Labour Association of Canada, Canada West Construction Union, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Eagle West Crane & Rigging, Jacob Bros. Construction, LMS Reinforcing Steel Group, Morgan Construction and Environmental and Tybo Contracting, along with six construction professionals: Forrest Berry; Brendon Froude; David Fuoco; Thomas MacDonald; Dawn Rebelo; and, Richard Williams.
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.