Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Chomiak: Forcing workers to join unions provides project stability

  • Print

The practice of workers joining unions on large-scale public construction projects like the new Bipole III transmission line has more to do with fairness and sensible management than discrimination, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak said today.

Chomiak was responding to criticism earlier today from Tory Opposition Leader Brian Pallister, who said the NDP’s practice of forcing workers to join unions on big ticket construction projects is discriminatory and unnecessarily adds to costs.

"He’s back to the 1940s," Chomiak said of Pallister. "The no-strike, no-lockout provisions in Hydro contracts has been in effect since Duff Roblin’s time.

"It provides for labour stability. It’s been used by such radical people as Mike Harris in Ontario. It’s pretty well standard process."

Pallister said today his Progressives Conservatives oppose any government policy they say forces workers to pay union dues--even if they are not a member of the union--just so they can get a job.

Pallister added that "forced unionization" prevents as many as 70 per cent of the province’s construction workers from making their own choice on whether to join a union.

Chomiak said the practice was successfully used on the floodway expansion project and has been carried over to the east-side road construction project — to link remote communities east of Lake Winnipeg year-round — and Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole III transmission line project.

Pallister said this policy affects $22 billion in government projects and is estimated to cost Manitobans an extra $3 billion in unnecessary spending.

Chomiak said that’s inaccurate.

He said it instead provides for stable costs and pricing at a time of labour shortages.

He said project labour agreements protect the province and Hydro in that they outlaw work stoppages or strikes and allows construction deadlines to be met.

A project management agreement also ensures that all workers working on the project receive the same wages and health benefits regardless of the contractor they are working for.

Pallister made his comments in the middle of an ongoing court fight between five construction workers who have taken Manitoba Hydro to court over the issue. A statement of claim was filed last June.

Barry Millen, Terri Fordham, Rick Lesiuk, Floyd Stoneham, Michel Paul Pilotte and Merit Contractors Association of Manitoba claim the policy prevents employees from working on large-scale projects Bipole III transmission line unless they join a designated trade union, and is a breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case remains before the courts.

Chomiak said project management agreements are based on the 1946 Rand formula which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.

"I even have a great quote from Vic Toews talking about how great it is to have the Rand formula," Chomiak said.

"He said, ‘I have no problem defending it. It’s a historic compromise and is in fact a great deal generally for workers who need a collective voice.’"

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for August 25-28

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.
  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Did you suffer any damages from Thursday's storm?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google