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International Operating Engineer - Spring 2019

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers

Canadian News British

Canadian News British Columbia Shores Up Protection for Working People with Local 115 Support The Board appointed to deliver the CBA includes two experienced and knowledgeable Operating Engineers, Allan Bruce and Gary Kroeker. Allan Bruce, the Chair of the Board, is the former Training Association Administrator at Local 115 and a former International Representative. workforce is laid-off. “These are modest changes, but they move us in the right direction in terms of restoring balance to labour relations in BC,” said Local 115 Business Manager Brian Cochrane in a media release. Cochrane expressed disappointment that the government will retain the two-step process that requires workers to sign a card and then participate in a secondary vote in order to gain union certification. [above] BC Minister Claire Trevena in April 2019 with Local 115 trainee Janine Sebastian. Janine is a single mom from an Indigenous background, part of a wave of working women who are moving to the BC trades. BRITISH COLUMBIA’S New Democrat government continues to roll out measures to assist working families, despite having the thinnest possible margin in the legislature. Since the government came into office two years ago under Premier John Horgan, IUOE Local 115 has taken every opportunity to engage with the government and push them to change laws, design programs, and develop new policies that help move the province forward while making life more affordable for working people. A major victory came in summer 2018, when the government agreed to a BC Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) derived from a model put forward by Local 115. This agreement with an alliance of building trades gives IUOE members access to work on key provincial projects and extends union wages and working conditions to all employees on those projects. It also promises to bring more women and Indigenous people into the skilled trades, a direction that the Local endorses. Local 115 was aided in this effort through the support of General President Callahan and the Canadian Office, who are leading a Community Benefits Agreement campaign under the framework of a national Community Building Standard. The campaign has a dedicated website (, radio ads, and a strong social media presence. Gary Kroeker, a member of the Board, is the former Local 115 Business Manager and a former International Vice President. These appointments are an important sign of the respect the leadership of the IUOE has achieved within BC industry and within the halls of government. Local 115 has stepped up its training program to prepare the new workforce. The provincial Minister responsible for the CBA, Claire Trevena, toured the Local’s training site and said, “As we move forward with our agreement, this is exactly the kind of training that we’re going to need.” In late April, the BC government announced improvements in both the labour relations laws and BC’s employment standards. The changes to the Labour Code followed a yearlong period of consultation by the government. During this process, Local 115 appeared at public hearings, submitted a detailed plan, and lobbied government at every opportunity. The resulting bill will reduce the ability of employers to interfere in organizing drives, protect collective agreements in cases where companies change hands, and will change the raid windows in construction to ensure that employerdominated unions can no longer schedule raid windows when the entire “Any worker who signs a card is giving a clear indication that they want to join a union,” Cochrane said. “The delays that precede a vote give employers time to engage in coercion and intimidation. The BC Labour Relations Board has received hundreds of complaints about such behavior over the years, and it’s certain that the voting requirement will continue to create problems for workers.” “I trust that the government will monitor the results of its legislation, and make further adjustments if they’re needed.” In announcing the revision to the Labour Code, BC Labour Minister Harry Bains said, “Workers’ rights and protections, regardless of where they work, need to be reflected in a modernized code. The last full review was 1992, and clearly, a great deal has changed in how people work in today’s economy.” Along with the labour relations changes, Local 115 pushed for changes to the Employment Standards Act to protect non-union workers by supporting the Workers Deserve Better campaign coordinated by the BC Federation of Labour and by lobbying government to make changes that will ensure that workers are paid what they are owed and shielded from harassment and unfair dismissal. Under the previous government, unions could negotiate working conditions that were inferior to the provincial minimums laid out in the Employment Standards Act. This will no longer be possible in BC going forward. “It’s hard to believe it, but some employer-dominated unions have waived overtime pay and let the employer demand unlimited hours of work,” said Brian Cochrane. “The government deserves credit for providing members of those so-called unions with increased protection. Even so, we’ll keep working to bring those people over to the world of real unions.” IUOE Local 115 Business Manager, Brian Cochrane plans to keep holding the government accountable and pushing for additional changes to the Labour Code and Employment Standards Act that protect workers and give their union the tools to advance their interests. [left] BC Labour Minister Harry Bains addresses a Local 115 General Membership Meeting. [above] BC Premier John Horgan, right, with IUOE Local 115 Business Manager Brian Cochrane and the Local 115 challenge coin. [article & photos] IUOE Local 115 20 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SPRING 2019 21

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