August 13, 2018
Industry Policies that further validate BCCA’s challenge of the Community Benefits Agreement
The recent Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) announced by Premier Horgan’s government has created a major disruption in our industry.
Tradespeople and employers alike – both union and open shop – are working to understand the details of the 336 page document and what it means for them, following inadequate consultation with industry prior to the release of the policy.
BCCA has clearly stated its opposition to the CBA on the grounds that it contravenes the obligation of government for fair, open and transparent procurement processes, and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (which guarantees all Canadians the right to freedom of thought and assembly).
There are other aspects of this policy that don’t stand up to scrutiny. To follow is a recap of the CBA violations of BCCA’s industry policies. For brevity we have taken short excerpts from our policies that are most relevant to the CBA. You can read the full policies by following the links:
BCCA supports an economic and political system based on individual freedom and the competitive free enterprise system.
- The CBA requires open-shop workers to join a government union, which contravenes freedom of enterprise.
2.4 Inter-Provincial Trade & Work Barriers
BCCA recommends that all forms of discrimination be eliminated.
Procurement by all levels of government within Canada should not be used as a regional development tool.
- The CBA preference for local labour is a form of discrimination and also amounts to an artificial regional development strategy. (Additionally, Provincial and National Trade Agreements such as the New West Partnership Trade Agreement and the Canadian International Trade Agreement prohibit local preference policies: these trade agreements take legal precedence over the CBA.)
2.5 Privatization of Government Services & Programs
BCCA supports the privatization of government services and programs that can be more effectively delivered by the private sector as long as privatization is implemented while maintaining acceptable standards of practice relating to a competitive process.
- The CBA creates a new Crown Corporation which will act as the “employer” of tradespeople on public projects, and will issue paychecks and provide benefits to those tradespeople (regardless of whether their true employer is an open shop or union employer). This will not be more effective than the current private sector model.
5.2 Equity Seeking Groups in the Construction Workforce
BCCA welcomes all equity seeking groups to careers in the skilled trades, and to other occupations within the construction industry. We urge all construction employers to ensure equal access to employment and to improve the retention of all workers, in order that the construction workforce more closely reflect the demographics of our society.
à It is not clear that the CBA will make it easier for equity seeking groups to enter the workforce. The CBA does not give equal access of employment to all workers.
BCCA opposes legislated wages at any level of government that are targeted specifically at the construction industry.
- The CBA will unilaterally allow the Crown Agency to deduct $0.32 hourly from each construction worker on the stated projects after 30 days of work: this openly contravenes the Fair Wage policy.
BCCA supports the right of every contractor to operate in the construction marketplace. BCCA supports the maintenance of a healthy labour/management relationship, which will aid the British Columbian and Canadian economy and provide maximum productivity.
- The CBA directly contravenes this right and its manner of introduction has created an unhealthy labour/management relationship. The resulting risk to our economy and productivity is real.
5.7 Procurement Preferences to Benefit Equity Seeking Groups
The BC Construction Association strongly endorses the principle that neither the age, sex, gender, race, religion, nor geographic domicile within the Province of the principal owners of a firm, its employees, or labour force, should be a consideration in the procurement of construction materials or services. Furthermore, the Association vigorously opposes any procurement practice or program, which seeks to confer exclusive bidding rights to firms based upon any of the foregoing characteristics, or compulsory programs of employment equity, including any system of quotas related to age, gender, race, religion, or geographic location within the Province.
- The CBA seeks to prefer demographic groups as defined by their labour affiliation and confers bidding rights based on compulsory employment in a union.
The CBA was created without the input of BCCA. Had we been at the table, these are the points we would have raised. We are pursuing a review of the CBA in partnership with our regional construction associations and other stakeholders. For more information on our actions to oppose the CBA, go here.