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International Operating Engineer - Spring 2016

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Canadian News Local 115:

Canadian News Local 115: “We are BC’s dam builders!” Campaign questions lack of job guarantees for B.C. workers AT THE END OF MARCH, IUOE Local 115 ran an ad in a special section of the Vancouver Province newspaper titled “Building B.C.” This was part of the local’s ongoing efforts to pressure the British Columbia government and BC Hydro, the crown corporation that delivers power to the province, to use Project Labour Agreements for the Site C dam. Site C dam is an .3 billion mega project being built in northern B.C. on the Peace River and has been billed as the last large-scale dam that will ever be built in the province. “For the first time in over 50 years, Operating Engineers are not the exclusive workers who will be completing this project. We are working hard to turn that around,” says Business Manager Brian Cochrane. The newspaper ad accompanied an article highlighting exactly why it is so important to hire local workers for projects paid for by British Columbian taxpayers, and why it is even more imperative to build those massive infrastructure investments using union labour. The article was widely circulated, and since then, media coverage has embraced the union’s stance that B.C. workers should be building the projects coming out of their taxes. Historically, Local 115 members have been B.C.’s dam builders. “During the 1960’s, when the majority of B.C.’s large power-producing dams were built, it was Operating Engineers who exclusively built those major projects. This is the first time in more than 50 years BC Hydro and the B.C. government have moved away from the Project Labour Agreement model,” Cochrane explains. Everyone in British Columbia has benefited over many years from the legacy of the hydro dams built in past decades according to Cochrane. Those projects met the highest environmental standards and have produced reliable power for industry and communities to this day. However, in the first six months of this new project, there have been two breaches of environmental conditions caused by non-union crews. In addition, the company created a job posting for a human resources assistant where one of the outlined responsibilities was helping navigate the process required to bring in temporary foreign workers. That part of the job posting was later redacted when the media began asking questions, but that doesn’t mean the scope of the job has actually changed. Local 115 submitted several freedom of information requests on how many B.C. workers are employed on the project. Despite vague talking points repeated frequently by spokespeople for BC Hydro and the provincial government, the information showed that as little as 65 percent of workers on the project are local hires—even less considering that permanent administrative staff in a regional office were included in the numbers reported. The ads are part of a larger campaign to win a commitment to employ B.C. workers, and union workers, on the Site C dam, as well as future LNG projects currently under consideration by the Canadian federal government. A centerpiece of the campaign is a website titled, “Jobs for Northern BC” found at www.jobsfornorthernbc. ca. While spreading the campaign message, the website is also gathering the names, occupations and contact information of job seekers throughout British Columbia—those potentially looking for work on the Site C dam or future LNG projects. “Since our ad ran, BC Premier Christy Clark has made a big deal about awarding a small portion of the work to BC Building Trade unions, including Operating Engineers. However, in the scope of the project, of the hundreds of workers employed on Site C, only four positions are going to IUOE Local 115 members,” adds Cochrane. In light of this, Local 115 will continue to apply pressure to both BC Hydro and the B.C. government to hire local workers. They want to make sure the legacy of Operating Engineers continues—they are, and will always be, B.C.’s dam builders. [above] The newspaper advertisement run by Local 115 as part of the “Jobs for Northern BC” campaign. [left] An artist rendering of the Site C Dam located on the Peace River in Northern British Columbia. 20 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SPRING 2016 21

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