9,000 sheet metal workers win 15.8% raise

These workers had gone 4 years with only one small wage increase.

In the June 2023 Bargaining Update released earlier this month, Alberta’s jobs, economy, and northern development ministry indicated that two new collective agreements for sheet metal workers had been reached.

Settled on 4 June 2023, the new agreements are between the Construction Labour Relations Alberta and Local 8 of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association.

One of the agreements is for sheeting, decking, and cladding workers and the other is for sheet metal workers.

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The new 2-year agreements replace the previous agreements, which had expired in April 2019 (here and here), and will expire in April 2025.

According to an August 2020 newsletter that Local 8 had published for its members, one of the reasons for the delay in negotiations was the CLRA’s insistence that wage increases presented by the union’s negotiating committee were too high and had to be lowered.

The slowdown in work is the focus and being used against us. They are claiming that the wage package must be reduced due to the limited amount of work and that their bids must be more competitive. The slow down can’t be denied, but the cost of living hasn’t gone down, and we have only received one small raise in the last 4 years.

Workers covered by this new agreement can expect to see 2 wage increases during the life of the contract.

June 20237.9%
May 20247.9%

That’s a combined total increase of 15.8%. And remember, that follows having received only one small raise over the last 4 years.

By the end of these new contracts, non-industrial first-year sheet metal workers—the lowest-paid workers affected by this contract—will be making $21.00 an hour, up from $18.63 an hour.

The new contracts will affect about 9,000 sheet metal workers throughout the province, including sheeters, deckers, and cladders.

Truth and Reconciliation Day was added to the list of paid general holidays in both contracts.

Workers under the new contracts will also see their transportation reimbursement increase from 52¢ per kilometre to 65¢ a kilometre by the end of the contract.

There will also be an increase to transportation reimbursement to remote sites.

Up to 200 km$88$110
201–300 km$124$156
201–375 km$150$188
376–475 km$224$280
Over 475 km$344$429

Alberta Contractors held a ratification vote on the new contract at the end of April. Turnout at the vote was 42.9%. Of those who came out to vote, a solid majority (78.7%) voted to approve the contract.

This follows a similar win seen by carpenters back in May when they negotiated a 15.7% increase with CLRA.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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