April 2013

The News from Canada

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of our report, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those Canadian locals who took the time and the opportunity to submit photos and articles to the Canadian office that were displayed in the 2012 Christmas edition of the Ironworker magazine. Your members appreciated your efforts!

The illustrated graph shows the non-residential construction dollars being proposed in Canada over the next nine years. Although the amounts are staggering at between $11–$21 billion per year, moving forward we must take into consideration of ‘who’ is competing with our contractors and members for those dollars.

Here are our some of our competitors. CLAC or the Canadian Labour Association of Canada, who are now the fastest growing construction union in Canada and we need to treat them for what they are—competition. The MERIT Contractors Association and the all too common non-union contractors are all in the game and, like us, would like to grow their market share.

As competitors, we are all striving for larger piece of the pie; and we all have our have strengths or competitive edge which could be the difference between winning or losing a contract—be it small, medium or large.

As ironworkers, we need to build on our strengths and “Be the Best”—safety, quality and productivity. Continue to train through the opportunities provided by your local union training fund, IMPACT and the NTF. Become invaluable to whoever is hiring your services.

Now on the other side of the coin, how do we reduce or eliminate our weaknesses? Well it’s right in front of us. It was adopted by our members who attended the 2006 Iron Workers International Convention, and yes, our constitution supports and has the ability to enforce. The Ironworkers’ Standards of Excellence (SOE), on page 31 of this issue, is a good reason to stand behind excellence every time you step up to represent your organization and your brother and sister ironworkers.

The Ironworkers’ SOE is our part of who we are; it’s our brand that is recognized by industry and we cannot afford to damage it!

A large portion of those new construction dollars we talked about earlier should equate to steel fabrication contracts for our shop divisions who desperately need the work for their contractors and members. Instead, we are seeing billions of dollars’ worth of steel fabrication supply contracts go offshore, specifically to Asian markets.

We need to do everything in our power to prevent offshore fabrication.

Hats off to Tom O’Neill, FST/BM and his staff with Local 712 (Vancouver, British Columbia) for being their member’s voice in the government’s political arena in British Columbia, in what has been an uphill battle, to convince industry and government that Canadian workers and his west coast members need those jobs. What government sometimes forgets is that our middle class, blue-collar hard working members, plays such a significant role in keeping this country’s economy moving.

The Iron Workers’ Canadian fabricators can compete in a fair market. However, the offshore markets are far from what can be considered fair competition. We will continue to lobby with our contractors to convince government and industry that they can get a better bang for their buck through fair bidding practices, safety, quality and productivity when they fabricate their steel right here in Canada.

Our national IMPACT labour/management co-chairs, General President Walter Wise and Bill Brown of Ben Hur Construction, have been engaged in Canada’s best interests with the transition of IMPACT and its valuable programs. The Ironworkers IMPACT labour/management program has put us on the map as a progressive organization ready to invest in becoming invaluable to our owner and contractor communities.

Our next initiative to grow market share has come from the International’s Organizing department via the 2011 convention, where already three full-time International organizers have been hired in Canada to pursue new members and new customers. The field and shop International organizers will work under the direction of Executive Director Bernie Evers in the Organizing Department and John Bielak, director of the Shop Department respectively.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome on board James Rodney, Local 736 (Hamilton, Ontario), Leonard Raboud, Local 720 (Edmonton, Alberta) and Ed Dornia, a member of Local 712, who will hold the position of shop organizer of Western Canada. James Rodney will be our Canadian campaign coordinator and Leonard Raboud will be our Western Canada campaign coordinator.

I know Brother Rodney and Brother Raboud personally and they both bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. They will use those skills in organizing and marketing unrepresented ironworkers and new contractors in a very competitive industry. They are hardworking committed ironworkers who will do an outstanding job for our organizing department.

Our organizers can’t do it alone; they need your help. So, look to your local union offices and website notices for information on how you can make a difference in maintaining and growing the Iron Worker’s market share in your area.

In closing, the Canadian office wishes to thank the Canadian staff and all the International departments for their ongoing assistance.