Replacement of the Pattullo Bridge between Surrey and New Westminster is one of the projects designated for 19 international unions affiliated with the B.C. and Yukon Building Trades Council. (Black Press Media)

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Re: Welcome to the union ‘battle zone’ for pipeline construction (B.C. Views, May 12).

Tom Fletcher stated some information in such a way that it blurred the reality of what he was expressing as “fact.”

First, he said the John Horgan government has given large public construction contracts exclusively to the B.C. Building Trades, much to the chagrin of the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) and organizations like them. This obscures the fact that contracts are awarded to companies, not unions.

Awarding public contracts to companies that have strong unions makes good business and economic sense. Businesses have access to a professional workforce that works efficiently and safely and workers are paid a fair wage and have funds to provide for their families and participate in their communities.

READ MORE: B.C. NDP using ‘sledgehammer’ on contract employers

READ MORE: New labour rules allow construction raids every summer

Community benefits agreements do not preclude any company from bidding on a project, but rather ensure that workers and the local community, not just bosses and owners, benefit from public taxpayer-funded projects. Allowing companies associated with organizations like CLAC, who call themselves unions but bargain provisions below Employment Standards Act levels, takes wealth created by workers and moves it to the one per cent, where they do such things as speculate on real estate, driving up the cost of housing, or deposit in tax-free havens offshore.

Fletcher comments that most building trades-affiliated unions are U.S.-based and international, implying that they are somehow foreign or at least not Canadian. This is like saying that families who moved to Canada from the States generations ago are “U.S.-based.” They aren’t; they’re Canadian.

The B.C. Federation of Labour takes as their slogan a quote from J.S. Woodsworth, the first leader of the CCF: “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all.” This article, along with others I’ve read from Fletcher, leaves me with the question: what does he wish for all?

Stephen Crozier, President, New Westminster and District Labour Council, Burnaby

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