Alberta construction groups raise policy concerns
By Adam FreillConstruction Labour
With a provincial election fast approaching, the PCA, Alberta Construction Association and ICBA Alberta are asking for clarity from NDP.
A group of Alberta construction associations is urging the provincial leader of the opposition, Rachel Notley, to clarify policy positions in her party’s platform for the upcoming Alberta provincial election that the group says could negatively impact thousands of construction workers in the province.
The organizations say that, if elected in the May 29 election, the Alberta New Democratic Party has pledged to create a “community benefits agreements regime” and do away with “double breasting” (using affiliated companies with different union representation or a mix of union and non-union employees). These policy changes, says the group, could prevent the vast majority of Alberta construction workers from building public projects at a time when the province faces a critical shortage of skilled tradespeople.
In an open letter to Notley, the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), Alberta Construction Association and ICBA Alberta state, “We are concerned that if implemented, these changes could increase taxpayer costs and limit the access of thousands of Alberta companies and construction workers to public and private projects, during a critical time when demand for their skills is at an all-time high.”
The organizations’ concerns about Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) stem from experiences in B.C., which the group says is “a grossly coercive program aimed at giving select B.C. Building Trades Unions a monopoly over large parts of the province’s multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects.”
The association executives who signed the letter are asking Notley to confirm that “all public infrastructure programs, including any conducted under a future CBA regime, will be open to all Alberta construction companies and their workers regardless of the labour model they have freely chosen to employ.”
The group also says, “One of Alberta’s distinct advantages is that large scale construction projects, like the oil sands and petrochemical sectors, as well as major infrastructure, have been built and maintained using craft union, non-union, and progressively unionized workers – productively working side by side,” adding that industry-wide consultations would be advisable before making policy changes that could impact the industry’s growth and success.
The full letter can be viewed on the PCA website.