On-Site Magazine

Campaign to prevent spread of construction labour monopolies

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November 26, 2014 by STAFF REPORT

The Fair Construction campaign has launched to warn municipalities that could be targeted next by construction labour monopolies.

Chairperson of the campaign, Karen Renkema, says this is a growing and alarming trend in Southwestern Ontario. “Our goal is to ensure municipalities know how to reduce their risk, so they aren’t forced to pay inflated construction costs,” she said. “When labour monopolies drive up the cost of construction, it isn’t fair to anyone, especially taxpayers.”

The Fair Construction campaign is making stops across Southwestern Ontario to inform municipalities, associations, elected officials and industry about the issue, and explain steps that can be taken to prevent a construction labour monopoly from taking hold in their town, city or region.

According to Fair Construction, a loophole in the Ontario Labour Relations Act has allowed construction unions to certify public sector employers, including Toronto, Hamilton, Sault Ste. Marie, and more recently the Region of Waterloo as “construction employers.”

These municipalities are subject to a province-wide collective agreement that forces them to restrict who they can contract and hire for construction projects. These restrictions reduce competition as up to 70 per cent of qualified companies and workers are prevented from competing for local projects. They also raise costs because with less competition municipalities will pay 20 to 30 per cent more ($188 to $283 million annually) for construction projects.