Since becoming your Executive Secretary Treasurer, I have to say that the landscape of the province has changed significantly.
The new labour legislation introduced by the Alberta government in September has yielded three successful organizing campaigns: Clearstream Energy, GN Fabrications and ICON Construction, with ICON as an application that had over 90% support, resulting in an automatic certification that did not require the folks who signed cards to vote. As we finally have favourable labour legislation, the time to organize is now. I have been hearing that members are reluctant to come forward and report working non-union – but in order to grow our contractor base we need you to do so. Please contact our organizers and let them know where you are working so we can organize that non-union company and grow our work opportunities. For north of Ponoka, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and for south please email email@example.com.
As you know, we have been under attack from some of our contractors that have historically supported UBC Scaffolders across the province. They have chosen to use the steep drop in construction projects over the last year to attempt to break our solidarity. A number of solid members have gone to work with the union’s blessing for these contractors to help us prove they are one company no matter how many spinoffs they are affiliated with. I thank those that have taken on this challenge to help the working people in Alberta retain the pride that comes from being a tradeperson earning a decent living while building this great province. I was recently scheduled to meet with Premier Rachel Notley to speak about continuing issues with spin-off contractors, however this happened to occur the week of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline war with British Columbia and unfortunately she had to cancel in order to represent us at the table with the Prime Minister. She has promised to schedule a visit to our hall and the training centre again soon, and we will continue to have conversations with staff and Ministers about these crucial issues on our jobsites.
The Valley Line LRT project is moving along very well; our members demonstrate each day that the skills and work ethic they provide truly is the most productive. I have toured the sites along the route including the many bridges and elevated platforms under construction. Our members working on these sites are making us look good every day. The site that American Bridge is completing for the river crossing is also moving along very nicely. If you drive to Louise McKinney Park on the bank of the North Saskatchewan River you will have a very good vantage point to see some of the construction under way.
I am proud to tell everyone that the members of the UBC are on those jobs and they will see the Valley Line completed on time. For too long Unions have been portrayed as the reason projects are delayed and way over budget. One need only look at the new Walterdale Bridge to see a project completed with big delays and over budget. The Edmonton Journal actually said about that job that: “Monday’s partial opening of the bridge to commuters was a largely quiet affair — more relief than celebration.” Which is very sad for a project of this size and importance. It’s not a coincidence that UBC members were not on any of these bridge or other LRT projects. Clearly, the process to award projects in our cities needs to be changed. Edmonton City Councillor Aaron Paquette was recently at the Edmonton hall to talk about procurement issues and the idea of a “Fair” or “Prevailing” wage on municipal infrastructure so that our contractors have an even playing field versus non-union groups. I will be continuing these discussions with friendly city council members in Calgary, Red Deer, Fort McMurray and wherever we have allies in governance.
The next year will hold serious challenges for us that will require every member’s commitment to once again demonstrate your skills and professionalism both on and off the job. We will continue to demonstrate our ability to build the projects within the province that make everyday life easier for commuters, and we will work hard to grow work opportunities in upcoming commercial and institutional projects such as in new schools, hospitals, and office tower construction. 2019 is a year that will define the province. Not only will we be in collective bargaining, we will see a provincial election as well. These two things will require each and every member’s attention and support if we are to retain our wages and standards. I thank you for all the support that I have received through telephone calls, emails and those who have spoken to me at meetings across the province. Members are my first priority, and I am committed to increasing our union’s ability to represent the membership in a way that is in keeping with technological advances. I have our team working on setting up telephone town halls for the membership to tell me what’s on their mind directly, as well as mass text services, and even in the development of a dispatch “app” for IoS and Android cell phones so that out of work members can get direct notifications of jobs on the board that they are qualified for and upcoming ticket and training information directly.
As always, I am available to speak about your concerns. The quickest way to get in touch is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for all that you do, and keep at it.