Striking carpenters seeking ‘a fair share of the wealth we build’

File image from Carpenters District Council of Ontario

Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The story is the same in several construction sectors as members reject offers and join picket lines across the province. The numbers have grown significantly as 15,000 unionized carpenters are off the job Monday, after overwhelmingly rejecting the latest settlement offer last week.

“They are looking for wage increases to deal with inflation and the skyrocketing cost of living,” Mike Yorke, president, Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario (CDCO), said Sunday evening.

“Members are overwhelming in support of a strike as the cost of living is through the roof – in housing, groceries and even gasoline just to get to work and when you get there parking is $30 per day downtown.

“It all adds up to the labour response.”

Carpenters joined LiUNA Local 183 members who are continuing strikes in the provincial forming, framing, tile, carpet and hardwood and self-levelling sectors.

According to a May 6 website update, “Local 183 continues to be in negotiations for the settlement of some collective agreements, including those sectors which are on strike”.

On May 8 members voted to renew the fencing agreement. On May 7 members voted to ratify the railings agreement, and there is now a new collective agreement in place between the union and the Greater Toronto Railing Association. The strike is now over.

However, a proposed settlement has not been reached for the provincial demolition agreement and LIUNA Ontario Provincial District Council (OPDC), together with Local 183 and the other LIUNA locals, are in legal strike position on May 12.

ICI plumbers and pipefitters last week rejected a proposed settlement offering 12.5 per cent pay increases over three years by 53 per cent last Thursday. The two sides are discussing next steps and whether to return to the bargaining table and a spokesperson for the union said the 12,000 to 15,000 members will not strike “as long as the sides are talking.”

The plumbers’ union says it is returning to bargaining with management Tuesday and Wednesday.

Also, a proposed contract that was accepted by painters was rejected by drywall tapers and a strike vote will be held soon, said Bruno Mandic, business manager/secretary treasurer of International Painters and Allied Trades Union(IPATU) District Council 46 in Ontario which has more than 8,000 members.

“Our next generation of workers ~ the young men and women who will build Ontario need to know that we stand with them to ensure that construction is a viable career of safe, well-paid jobs and in an equitable industry where diversity is respected and valued,” Yorke said.

“No one wants a strike, but our members need a fair share of the wealth that they build every day with their skills. It’s pretty fundamental – we drive the economy, we create wealth, we build Ontario and we desire a fair share of the wealth we build.”


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