A project to replace the CN Rail level crossing on Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Terrace is behind schedule. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Impact of union-friendly work plan unknown in northwest

Agreement affects at least $500 million in planned projects in B.C.

The provincial government has yet to decide how an all-encompassing plan to boost local employment, train apprentices and hire more women and First Nations workers under the umbrella of union contracts will play out in the northwest.

Provincial construction projects worth more than $500 million, either committed, planned or requested for the northwest, stand to be affected by the province’s new Community Benefits Agreement announced last month.

The companies involved in the construction will hire workers through a new Crown corporation, which in turn will sign contracts with the province’s major trades unions.

Topping the construction list is an overpass spanning a CN level crossing on Hwy16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert.

Government officials now say they’re developing employment plans for northwest provincial construction contracts with details promised over the next year.

“Our government is working to make sure that local communities share in the benefits of building major infrastructure projects. That means supporting local businesses whenever possible, creating good paying jobs for people and providing an opportunity to train and apprentice workers,” said the provincial infrastructure and transportation ministry, which is in charge of the new community benefits program.

In announcing the benefits agreement premier John Horgan said the emphasis will be on hiring locally.

“Our objective here is to make sure that we can, to the greatest extent possible, hire local contractors to make sure they hire local workers,” Horgan said. “I’m confident there will be no shortage of work.”

READ MORE: CN level crossing overpass project likely over budget

A contractor for the CN level crossing overpass project between Terrace and Prince Rupert, with an original forecast budget of $37 million, won’t be chosen until next year.

Under the province’s community benefits agreement, workers will be required to join construction unions, and while non-union companies can bid on contracts they must also pay union-scale wages.

A multi-page agreement setting out wages, benefits and working conditions signed by the province and major construction unions will be applied to projects. It contains a no-strike/no-lockout clause and for the purposes of hiring defines ‘ local’ as someone who resides within 100 kilometres of a specific project.

Should no qualified people be found within B.C. efforts will then be made to find workers in the Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, followed if necessary by extending the search to the rest of Canada with temporary foreign workers coming last.

The benefits agreement was quickly criticized by non-union companies and associations and labour unions not connected with the province’s major trades unions, saying it gives those unions a labour monopoly and will result in higher project costs which will be borne by taxpayers.

RELATED: B.C. NDP prepares to move on labour, employment standards



newsroom@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School. File photo Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School. File photo

Just Posted

Heart of Our City – One good deed

Peggy Fergusson helped a senior Rupertite regain her footing

Rupert rugby player shines for Barbarians

Hannah Scherr started playing rugby in the youth program in Prince Rupert

Northern First Nations partnership reshaping government’s approach to reconciliation

Kaska, Tahltan and Tlingit First Nations share Premier’s Award for Innovation with ministry

Prince Rupert Rampage to start a brief road trip

The Prince Rupert Rampage head out east on a road trip to Williams Lake and Quesnel.

Shames Mountain keeps bunny hill free

Co-op wants to make the sport more accessible for beginners

This Week – Episode 111

Selena Horne, Charles Hays high school musical star, co-hosts the Northern View’s weekly show

Delivering the paper as a family

The Northern View is looking for newspaper carriers in Prince Rupert, join our team today

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Trudeau says he won’t negotiate in public on future of LGBTQ rights in USMCA

Legislators urged Trump not to sign the agreement unless the language was removed.

Most Read