Open letter to Reg. Chair Ken Seiling regarding Carpenters union certificationFebruary 18, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
Mr. Ken Seiling,
1st Floor, 150 Frederick Street
I wanted to follow up with you about our recent conversation regarding the application for certification filed by the Carpenters District Council of Ontario on Dec. 15, 2012.
I am pleased to see that the Region of Waterloo reacted to this application in time and filed a response with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. I support the Region’s position on this matter and would like to offer my assistance to ensure that taxpayers do not experience any undue financial consequences resulting from the potential approval of this application.
As I mentioned when we spoke last week, certification by the Carpenters union would have far-reaching consequences for our community. If approved, this application would subject the Region to the union’s province-wide collective agreement, which contains restrictive contracting-out clauses.
This scenario would effectively create a labour monopoly under which only contractors who have been organized by the Carpenters union would be able to bid and work on taxpayer-funded projects, such as transit and water infrastructure. As a result, hundreds of companies and thousands of workers would be prevented from bidding on Regional projects. This development would seriously impact our local economy and substantially increase costs for the Region.
A similar situation unfolded in Hamilton when the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America obtained certification. Because companies and contractors outside of the union can no longer bid on municipal projects, the City of Hamilton estimates its annual costs have increased by $4 million to $10 million. After a recession that left so many Ontarians jobless or with less income, taxpayers in our community should not have to incur millions of dollars in new costs each year.
Part of our job as elected representatives is to ensure that taxpayers get the best value for their money while sustaining a vibrant and growing local economy. We both know one of the best ways to achieve this goal is by maintaining a competitive bidding process for local projects. That way the highest-quality company or contractor offering the best value for our community will get the job. This process saves taxpayers’ money and incentivizes businesses to offer better services at a competitive price.
Over the next few days, I will be exploring provincial solutions for our community and for Ontario as a whole. I am looking forward to working with you and your colleagues at the Region on this matter and would like offer my assistance wherever needed.
Michael Harris, MPP