National trade union opposes undermining from other unions

In response to recent organizing of an Edmonton-area workplace, Canada’s Building Trades Unions issued a letter warning members about joining opposing unions.

Late last month, I wrote an article about Local 1999 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America trying to unionize insulators working for a company in the Edmonton area providing construction services.

That same day, the executive board of Canadian Office of the North America’s Building Trades Unions—otherwise known as Canada’s Building Trades Unions—issued a letter to its members to caution them against the organization efforts of two locals of United Brotherhood of Carpenters, including Local 1999.

In the letter, CBTU’s executive board claimed that locals 585 and 1999 of UBC “seek to take away our jurisdiction and undermine our ability to create a highly specialized and skilled workforce.”

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According to CBTU, through these two locals, UBC is trying to imitate the efforts of the business-friendly Christian Labour Association of Canada in putting forth “sub-standard agreements”, which CBTU claim “may cause irreparable damage to our unions”, including lower wages and worse pensions and benefit plans.

The letter went on to say that UBC is trying to recruit CBTU members via advertisements and phone, which CBTU interprets as a threat to the hard work they have put in “to negotiate collective agreements that contain strong wages and pensions to benefit our members.”

As such, in the letter, the CBTU executive board warned members that they could face reprimands if they work for unions opposing the work of unions belonging to CBTU. Reprimands could include being removed from dispatch lists and even expulsion from CBTU and its member unions.

The letter was signed signed by the following executive members of 13 trade unions:

  • Sean W. Strickland, Executive Director, Canada’s Building Trades Unions
  • Robert Kucheran, General Vice President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • Kevin Bryenton, Executive Director of Canadian Affairs, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers
  • Paul Faulkner, Vice President of Eastern Canada, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
  • Joseph Mancinelli, Vice President, Labourers’ International Union of North America
  • Chris Paswis, Director of Canadian Affairs, Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers
  • Patrick Campbell, Regional Canadian Director, International Union of Operating Engineers
  • Ben McIntyre, National Organizer, International Union of Elevator
  • Russ Shewchuk, International Vice President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Craig Strudwick, Regional Director of Canada, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
  • Chris Feller, Vice President, Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association of the United States and Canada
  • Gary Kitchen, Construction Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Terry Snooks, Director of Canadian Affairs, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada

I’ve included a copy of the letter below.

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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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