December 2012

Report of Darrell LaBoucan, Department of Canadian Affairs

Canadian Report 2012

No one builds this country as safely, efficiently and skillfully as the ironworkers do!


As we move into the holidays we all look forward to sharing more time with friends and family. The holidays are a time to be thankful for the food and bounty that hard work as ironworkers has provided us. The ironworkers in Canada have been blessed with increased work opportunities in 2012, far exceeding everyone's expectations.

This country's rich natural resources from metals, Potash, oil and gas have given our economy the edge as offshore and onshore demand for the end products increase. Aside from Canada's oil and gas sector boom, $4 billion of new projects in Local 786`s (Sudbury, Ontario) area, include the Vale Atmospheric Emissions Reduction Chromit processing facility and the Xstrata clean gas project. Just north of Sudbury, Local 759 (Thunder Bay, Ontario) is knee deep into two major projects, Detour Lake Gold mine and the Lower Mattagami River Hydro project, which have attracted ironworker boomers from all over Canada.

Local 721 (Toronto, Ontario) embraced a risk/reward opportunity to expand their residential curtain wall market over the last three years. The reward was increased market share and gaining long-term jobs for our members, creating millions of dollars in wages, benefits, pensions, and apprenticeship funds, which are so critical to sustaining our place in the industry. Well done, Local 721.

Congratulations Local 700 (Windsor, Ontario) on being awarded with the 2011 international's IMPACT Eagle award for meeting the high standards set by the International KPI program. Well done, FST/BM Mark Dugal, Training Coordinator Rob Schaafsma, and all the Local 700 staff.

To reach the Alberta oil sands by road is a 450+ kilometer or 250+ mile drive on a dangerous and busy two-lane highway. In the last fifteen years, 149 people have  been killed on the highway in motor vehicle accidents, some of them our own. Through the lobbying of the ironworkers and the building trades, the stretch of highway is being fast tracked to be twinned starting this year. Thank you to all who had a hand in making this happen.

Worthy of note is our country's only double digit local, Local 97 (Vancouver, British Columbia), who has made significant market share increases by being a realist union. Local 97 was successful in a top down organizing drive with a major multi-craft union of convenience contractor, Kiewit. Kiewit held the contract for the recently completed $5 billion Vancouver, Port Mann Bridge expansion. Millions of dollars were rerouted to ironworker bank accounts as opposed to our competition. Well done, Local 97.

The shop division in Western Canada including Local 712 (Vancouver, British Columbia), 805 (Calgary, Alberta) and 838 (Regina, Saskatchewan) has faced their share of adversity as more and more steel fabrication is being sourced offshore. But as they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Together they have turned up the heat and made an impressive comeback this year surpassing the field locals with increased membership.

As we move through this decade, it has become increasingly evident that we are not only competing for work with the non-union and union of convenience in Canada, we are competing with certain unions of the building trades, who are also seeking all employee agreements with major multi-craft employers on both sides of the fence. In certain parts of the country, owners of projects continue to lean towards contractors having one union to manage all trades on site. Wall-to-wall or all employee agreements structured within the building trades will injure our members and our contractors.

In areas where the Iron Worker's market share is being threatened, the Iron Workers must continue to seek out new ways to assist our contractors in being competitive in the new world. We must seek out new relationships with contractors who now hire non-union and union of convenience ironworkers. We can only achieve this goal with your help. The reward will be to protect our unions, our families, and our International from threats from inside or outside unions looking to gain market share and increased membership at our expense.

The International organizing program was addressed at our last convention where convention delegates supported increased funding for organizing purposes. I'm pleased to advise you General President Walter Wise and Organizing Director Bernie Evers approved an international organizing coordinator to be hired in Canada as of September 2012. Local 721 member and veteran organizer Lashley Ray has been hired as the Canadian organizing campaign director. The organizing coordinator work scope will be to assist other international, local union, and district council organizers in campaigns, to increase our contractor base in the field and shop sectors, across the country. Congratulations Lash, we look forward to working with you in your new position.

With the holidays upon us, I wanted to take a moment to recognize the importance of safety in the workplace and at home. We have a very demanding trade, and working the entire year safely has not gone unnoticed, as we spend this special time of year with our loved ones. We would like to applaud General President Wise's commitment to ironworker safety and Zero Fatalities, and thank Steve Rank for his enthusiastic assistance with Canadian locals.
The IMPACT (Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust) program has been steadily gaining momentum in Canada with our members. We have structured our labour-management regional advisory boards, RABs, made up of business managers and contractor representatives. Ask your local union business managers, business agents, training instructors, and training coordinators about what IMPACT and the regional advisory boards can do for you.

Co-Chairs Walter Wise (labor) and Bill Brown (management) approved the hiring of a Canadian IMPACT director, Bert Royer, former Local 771 business manager. The Canadian IMPACT director will assist the Canadian ironworker's international office in continuing to promote the benefits of IMPACT to owners, contractors, and our members. Congratulations, Bert!

We also wish to acknowledge the ironworkers who have chosen to retire this year. Enjoy a safe and healthy retirement and thank you for your outstanding contributions to our great trade over your career. Special thanks to former IMPACT CEO Eric Waterman for all your guidance and support in bringing the values of IMPACT to Canada.

On behalf of international Canadian office, we wish to thank IMPACT CEO Kevin Hilton and the IMPACT team for their tireless commitment in delivering existing member and contractor training aids, while developing new programs exemplifying the ironworker advantage to owners of construction and maintenance projects.

As always, we want to give a moment of our thoughts to those members and members' families who lost loved ones since our last report.

In closing, I wish to convey my sincere thanks to our Canadian staff, Jacques Dubois, Kevin Bryenton, Eric Bohne, Bert Royer, Lashley Ray, and Sandy Lastiwka, and to all the members for your ongoing support to the organization. Thank you to the business managers, agents, organizers, training coordinators, instructors, local union administration, and service providers. I take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work and what you do for the members and the organization every day.

No one builds this country as safely, efficiently and skillfully as the ironworkers do!

On behalf of the Canadian office and my family, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe New Year. Together let's make 2013 a ZERO FATALITY YEAR!