Attention All Members of the Ontario Erectors Association, Incorporated

I am writing to provide an update on the negotiation of the 2019-2022 ICI sector collective agreement between the Ontario Erectors Association, Incorporated (the “OEA”) and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers and Ironworkers District Council of Ontario (the “Ironworkers”).

Background

Prior to commencing this round of bargaining, the OEA engaged in discussions with contractors across the province to determine where they felt the collective agreement unduly restricted their ability to competitively price jobs and complete work on time and budget.  From those discussions, it became clear contractors required changes to the provisions that addressed the staffing of jobs as well as those that dealt with unexpected delays or other situations where additional hours are required to be worked.

We started bargaining with the Ironworkers in March 2019 and have met a number of times since then and have focused our discussions on the issues noted above.

Unfortunately, to date, the Ironworkers have not been receptive to the changes our members have indicated are necessary to ensure the advancement of the industry and to combat competition from non-union or alternate union contractors.  While we have made progress on several minor provisions, we have been unable to reach agreement on any of the key bargaining issues.

Current Status of Negotiations

We most recently met with the Ironworkers on June 27, 2019.  At that time, we discussed full package proposals (including a financial proposal).  When it became clear an agreement was not imminent, we adjourned for the day.  We have not set future negotiation dates, but expect to meet later in July.

The three key remaining issues in bargaining are:

  • A proposal from the Ironworkers to increase the wage package;
  • A proposal by the OEA to amend the hiring provision to provide contractors the ability to name hire the most qualified and skilled Ironworkers; and
  • A proposal by the OEA to permit contractors to transfer employees to jobsites in other areas the province.

Next Steps

A conciliation officer (mediator) from the Ministry of Labour attended our last two bargaining dates, and we expect him to be present when we meet again.

To date, no party has requested the Ministry of Labour release a “No Board Report” but there is a possibility the Ironworkers will ask for one in the coming week.  If they take that action, a strike deadline will likely be set for a date near the end of July.

We hope the Ironworkers will spend the time between now and the next bargaining session considering the health of the industry and better appreciating the challenges our contractors face.  If they do that, we are optimistic a fair agreement can be reached that will ultimately advance the interests (financial, operational and other) of both contractors and union members.  If they do not and the Ironworkers continue to reject the OEA’s proposals regarding hiring and mobility provisions and instead, demand a wage increase with no corresponding benefit to contractors, we expect a strike will be inevitable.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss this issue further, please contact me.

Yours Truly,

Jack Mesley

President, Ontario Erectors Association, Incorporated