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International Operating Engineer - Summer 2017

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Canadian News Canada

Canadian News Canada Dedicates Monument to Building Trades Workers [above] Among those in attendance for the monument dedication in Ottawa were (L to R) Steven Schumann, IUOE Candian Government Affairs Director; Marc Lafond, Local 987 Business Manager; Gilles Lariviere, Local 905 Business Manager; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; IUOE General President James T. Callahan; and Brian Cochrane, Local 115 Business Manager. ON MAY 16 2017, the Prime Minister of Canada, along with the General Presidents of fourteen North American building trades unions and members of the public, gathered in Ottawa for the dedication and unveiling of the Canadian Building Trades Monument. The monument, supported by Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU), was fabricated in Ontario with Cambrian black granite sourced from Quebec. The design features a pair of plumb bobs, described by CBTU Chief Operating Officer Robert Blakely as the “intersection of gravity and human ingenuity,” and a carved toolbox with 16 granite tools representing the tools of the trades; the tools are “integrated and interdependent,” said Blakely, just as the construction trades stand together at worksites. Situated in a prominent setting in the heart of the nation’s capital, the monument is intended to both celebrate the contributions of the women and men who work in the building trades and to commemorate deaths in the sector. A procession of representatives of tradespeople from across the country laid single roses to honour the living and the dead. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with other members of government, acknowledged the value and strengths of Canada’s tradespeople and spoke of the pride that Canada has in the work they do to build the country. “As I think about the kind of future I want to build for my kids, I get to take a few minutes to look out my window to see the work you people do,” said Trudeau. “We are so proud to host this monument in our nation’s capital to celebrate the work of building trades in building our communities, the sacrifices made, to inspire a better future.” IUOE General President James T. Callahan was in attendance, along with members and business managers from IUOE locals across Canada. Danny Bertrand, a crane operator with Local 793 was on hand to hoist the final curtain with a crane in the grand moment of [above] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (center) inspects the newly unveiled monument dedicated to Canada’s building trades workers. [photo] CBTU the monument’s unveiling. In lieu of a ribbon cutting, four apprentices of their respective trades joined in cutting pipe, cable, glass and brick to mark the role each trade plays on a single worksite. Construction on the monument began in the fall of 2016, when the site was excavated, foundations were poured and the footings for the enormous plumb bobs were built. Work was completed a few months later, with the unveiling set to coincide with CBTU’s Federal Government Repeals Anti-Union Legislation AFTER A HARD FOUGHT campaign by unions, activists and organizations across Canada, the Government of Canada has successfully passed legislation to restore fair and balanced labour relations by repealing two punitive anti-labour laws put in place by the previous Conservative government. Bill C-4 was one of the first bills introduced by the new government. In 2015, the newly-elected Liberal government had vowed to clean up the raft of anti-union laws that the Conservatives left behind after nearly a decade in power: “It is our fundamental belief that unions have, and continue to play, an integral role in the growth and strength of the middle class in this country. We will work in partnership with Canadian workers to ensure they have a real and fair chance at success.” Now, nearly two years later, Bill C-4 has finally passed all the steps required for it to become law. The two laws repealed by the bill were Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, private members’ bills introduced by Conservative Members of Parliament as part of the previous administration’s ongoing agenda to undermine workers’ rights and weaken the labour movement. Backed by employers and employer interest groups, such as Merit Canada and the annual national conference. The process to get the monument built took shape over a decade ago, and has been a long and sometimes challenging process. In looking back on the process, Blakely speaks with pride at what a monument to the trades among Canada’s other national monuments means to tradespeople across the country. “Craftsmen and craftswomen are the backbone of society and they deserve to be honoured amongst the National Citizens Coalition, they were ideologically-driven bills designed to make it more difficult for unions to advocate for workers and for workers to join a union. Bill C-377 amended the Income Tax Act to require labour organizations to provide financial information for public disclosure. It imposed onerous reporting obligations on all unions, well beyond those required of charities, non-profits, and employers. Bill C-525, dubiously entitled the “Employees’ Voting Rights Act,” eliminated automatic “card check” certification in favour of a two-step process involving a mandatory secret ballot vote in addition to card signing. It also changed how unions decertify by allowing a minority (only 40%) to initiate a decertification vote. Getting these bills repealed has been a long, six year battle for the labour movement, one in which Operating Engineers have played a significant role. The grassroots lobbying efforts by our locals and their members have been vital to getting Members of Parliament and Senators on board with successfully passing Bill C-4 and repealing these draconian bills. mighty and the famous,” said Blakely. “Those notables only are important because they are standing on the shoulders of the builders of Canada, who now have a place of honour and a place of remembrance.” At the same time that Bill C-4 was being passed, the Liberal government also ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 98 on the “Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining.” It sets out rights for workers to organize and to negotiate collective agreements. It protects all workers from anti-union discrimination, including job termination for participating in union activities. By ratifying the convention, Canada recognizes the crucial role that strong unions and collective bargaining rights have in reducing inequality, protecting workers, and improving labour and working conditions. These actions are an acknowledgement from the federal government that labour unions and the people who make up their membership are an integral part of Canada’s social fabric. As it was in this case, Operating Engineers will continue to be at the forefront of the campaign to ensure that all Canadian workers are able to work in an environment where they have an active say in their safety, security, and well-being. Without the hard work of our members, we would not be in the position we are today. 22 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SUMMER 2017 23

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