Category Archives: In The News

Toronto's St. Patrick's Day Parade logo

Toronto’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

At 12 noon on Sunday, March 10, 2019, join more than a half-million people who line the streets of Toronto to watch parade participants paint the city green.

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher is the 2019 Grand Marshal and will be the ceremonial leader of the parade. Hundreds of Local 793 members and their family and loved ones will march proudly together along the parade route.

Parade location: 
Start time: 12 noon SHARP
Begins at the corner of St George St & Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W7
Ends at Nathan Phillips Square.
Distance 3.5 kilometres (approximately)

TO DO: Before you go to bed on March 9, make sure you set your clocks forward by one (1) hour. 

Ontario College of Trades logo

Ford government announces the winding down of the Ontario College of Trades

The Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) was the first organization in Canada that allowed construction trades to govern themselves, rather than leaving them to be directed by a provincial government ministry. At the time of its creation, the OCOT was also responsible for a much-needed modernizing of apprenticeship and skilled trades training and licensing in Ontario. On Tuesday, the Ford government made a sudden announcement that the OCOT is coming to an end.

Before the creation of the OCOT, it had been over 35 years since any government had acted on changes to technology and training needs to declare a new compulsory trade. A compulsory trade is a trade in which registration as an apprentice, journeyperson candidate or certification as a journeyperson is mandatory. At that time, we at the Operating Engineers were the last to be able to make our voice heard. In 1982, Hoisting Engineer was named a compulsory trade. It wasn’t until 2017 that Sprinkler Fitters were named the next compulsory trade. The OCOT provided a clear pathway by which any trade could apply to formally change their status to that of a compulsory trade.

Local 793 supported the creation of the OCOT right from the start. It provided improved safety and training for our members and a clear process to require licensing and training. Local 793 also supported, and continues to support, the concept of trades being regulated by those with the relevant expertise and direct involvement in the construction industry.

With the OCOT in place, many positive changes occurred that benefitted Local 793, OETIO, our members, our signatory contractors and the construction industry as a whole. The OCOT developed for the first time a Provincial Trade Exam for the Concrete Pump. The operators of TLBs, excavators, and bulldozers had their training standards reviewed and updated for the first time in almost 20 years. Appointees to the Heavy Equipment trade board, working with the OCOT, were also able to get Red Seal endorsement for those who wrote the approved Heavy Equipment Trade Exam. This ensures that our members’ skills are recognized anywhere they choose to work in Canada.

Local 793 thanks those 26 members, staff, and members of management of our signatory contractors who have spent many hours working on the OCOT trade boards, the divisional board, the board of governors and the appointments council. Over the last nine years, they have dedicated their time and expertise to make the OCOT all that it could be.

Of course, the OCOT was not perfect and did result in greater costs for fees and regulations. Safety and skills training, and a timely and enforceable means for addressing all industry concerns, remain top priorities of Local 793. We will meet, and where possible, work with the current Ford government to address our concerns and to continue to advance safety and skills training.

Our immediate priority is to meet with all Local 793 staff and with the representatives of our signatory companies, who currently do work at the OCOT, to discuss next steps. Specifically, our focus will be to help ensure the winding down of the OCOT is done responsibly. Most importantly, we must make sure that the development of a replacement model for the regulation of the skilled trades and the apprenticeship system in Ontario continues to promote safety, skills training and licensing.

cannabis, hemp, weed, drug

Cannabis and commercial vehicle drivers

RE. Road Safety Measures under the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, 2015 and the Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017.

Of particular note are the new zero tolerance measures for drivers of commercial vehicles.

Commercial vehicles are defined as:

  • a vehicle requiring an A, B, C, D, E, or F licence to operate;
  • a road building machine;
  • a vehicle that requires a Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR).

Drivers of commercial vehicles must have a blood alcohol concentration of zero when driving a commercial vehicle. Zero tolerance sanctions are currently in place, prohibiting drivers of commercial vehicles from having the presence of drugs and/or alcohol in their body, as detected by a federally approved oral fluid screening device or an approved alcohol breath screening device.

If a commercial driver has the presence of alcohol and/or drugs in their system, they will face serious penalties, including licence suspensions and administrative monetary penalties.

The penalties are:

Licence suspension Monetary penalty Other penalties
First occurrence 3 days $250* Other penalties, such as mandatory education or treatment programs may also apply for repeat offenders
Second occurrence 3 days $350*
Third and subsequent occurrences 3 days $450*

* Monetary penalties are expected to take effect by January 2019, and will be in addition to the existing $198 licence reinstatement fee.

PLUS commercial drivers will be subject to mandatory remedial education or treatment programs; and, ignition interlock (II) requirements for repeat occurrences.

  • 45, 90, or 180-day Vehicle Impoundment Program (VIP) rules will apply to all Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) related suspensions. The current appeal ground for impoundments of 45 days or longer will include drivers who were not subject to an II condition at the time of the VIP.
  • There will be a single consistent authority in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) to suspend a driver’s licence for failure to complete a prescribed remedial program and II condition on a licence after reinstatement from a CCC suspension.

Passing of retired general secretary-treasurer Coutts

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of former general secretary-treasurer, Norman “Budd” Coutts.

Well-loved and respected, brother Coutts was an integral part of our international union. He elevated the standing of operating engineers in Canada and his endless passion guided him through his leadership in the labour movement in Alberta, Canada, as well as in the United States.

Coutts initiated with IUOE Local 115 in British Columbia in 1957, working as an equipment operator before transferring into Local 955 in Edmonton four years later. He continued to operate equipment until he became a business agent and eventually business manager of Local 955 in 1971.

Under his leadership, he developed and implemented numerous programs including the local’s Training Fund in 1971 and its Pension Fund in 1972.

Coutts was elected international vice president in 1978, making him the youngest ever elected to the position, and later served as the union’s general secretary-treasurer, the second highest position at the international level.

He retired in November 2002.

Today, OE Local 955 extends a student scholarship award proudly bearing his name in honour of Coutts’ commitment to work, fellow operators and the union.

A friend to all of us, brother Coutts is irreplaceable and will not be forgotten by anyone whose lives he touched. May he rest in peace.

Building Trades Object to Decertification Push in Sault

Following is a letter to the editor from Pat Dillon, business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, that was published in Daily Commercial News on Feb. 14, 2018. Earlier, Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher had also written a letter to the editor on the same issue at

As business manager of the Provincial Building Trades Council, I am deeply troubled by the ongoing push by Sault Ste. Marie City Council to pursue a change in the city’s status as a “construction employer.”

In my view, this move was made based on misinformation and without any substantive reasoning. If successful, such a move would consume huge legal costs shouldered by the citizens of that community, but more importantly, would denigrate the fair wages, job security, safety and training standards that construction workers in the Sault have fought to achieve over the course of generations.

The city is a construction employer because it had decided it was cheaper to hire carpenters and labourers directly and cut out the contractors those workers traditionally worked for. Those workers then decided to apply to certify the city so they would have the same wages and benefits as if they were working for their construction contractors, doing the very same work.

Thus, the City of Sault Ste. Marie became a construction employer. Sounds fair to me.

Now, the city is deciding, based on misinformation on potential savings, that it wants to try and avoid its legal obligations to the Sault Ste. Marie workers.

At a time when the general public is realizing that government can be a force for improving the quality of people’s work experience as evidenced by recent provincial labour law reforms and an increase to the minimum wage to help keep up with increased costs of living, the municipal government in the Sault appears to have chosen a path of weakening workers by increasing, instead of mitigating, their precariousness.

The real driving force behind city council’s decision is the pursuit of profits at the expense of worker training, wages and pensions.

If successful, a change in status would improve only one thing: the bottom line for certain contractors who don’t want to pay their workers fair wages and/or don’t want to compete with legitimate contractors on a level playing field.

Insofar as the City of Sault Ste. Marie chooses to perform construction work, it should remain designated as a construction employer.

Over the years, workers active on projects who built the community have chosen to be represented by the Carpenters’ and Labourers’ unions whose collective agreements include prevailing wages and benefits that were negotiated by those unions with contractors, including the City of Sault Ste. Marie, to support those workers and their families.

To all of a sudden have unscrupulous employers and their associations warn of “labour monopolies” and a “lack of competition” in the Sault’s construction industry in order to tear down obligations to workers, is nothing new. Such efforts demonstrate an eagerness by some contractors to test out what they can get away with.

Changing Sault Ste. Marie’s status as a construction employer to then be able to hire non-union contractors does nothing to save taxpayers’ money and everything to enhance those contractors’ profits.

This would not only negatively impact workers, but legitimate contractors as well; ones who do pay fair wages and who help pay for skills training which produces better health and safety outcomes.

Those like Ms. Karen Renkema, of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, who are pushing the decertification campaign, would have the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie believe that if the city becomes a non-construction employer, this would somehow spur increased construction employment among local residents. Yet, a recent electrical/mechanical contract at a major hospital project in Brockville, won by an employer from Ms. Renkema’s organization, will have that employer bringing crews from out of town to perform the work, thereby totally ignoring the qualified but unemployed local tradespeople.

Pursuing a change in the Sault’s status as a construction employer may unleash an ugly race-to-the-bottom in that city’s construction industry, and given Ontario’s strengthening economy, the citizens of this province are expecting shared prosperity, not more inequality.

I am hopeful that the city leadership in Sault Ste. Marie will take the broader interests of construction workers into account when looking into this matter, and not merely rely on a narrative that wants to deregulate local government tendering to improve profits over people.

Hamilton Retiree Featured in Newspaper Story

The Hamilton Spectator recently ran a story about longtime Local 793 member Elwood Cook of Hamilton. The 85-year-old retiree was a grader operator and worked on many projects in the area.

By Jeff Mahoney
The Hamilton Spectator

The long and winding road that leads to his door (Elwood Cook’s) will never disappear.

(Hey, I like that sentence. Someone oughta make it a song. McCartney maybe? Nah.)
The long and winding roads and the countless others that Elwood smoothed the way for in this city, might get potholed (they sure might — have you driven out there this month?); they might get patched up, diverted, rerouted, resurfaced and altered.

But they’ll always be there, leading figuratively to his door, because he dug, loaded, bulldozed and graded the surfaces of so many streets in Hamilton, even as they were being born. He was a big-machine operator here for 44 years. There’s his old union cap on the shelf in his basement.

Click here to continue reading.

Gallagher Urges Trades to Support OCOT Boards

Following is a story from a recent Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario convention that was published Oct. 25 in Daily Commercial News.

Gallagher, Cunningham urge Building Trades convention attendees to support OCOT boards

Construction stakeholders and new members of the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) Appointments Council Mike Gallagher and Ian Cunningham teamed up to urge delegates attending the recent convention of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario to get on board with OCOT and start nominating trades representatives to various boards.

Gallagher, business manager with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 793, and Cunningham, president of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA), said in their addresses to delegates there is an urgency to recruit new board members.

There are already openings on various boards and, in the next year, numerous terms will expire, requiring a major influx of new appointees.

“We need strong, committed, connected people to fill these vacant positions on the trade boards, the division boards and on the board of governors if the College is going to work for the best interests of the industry,” said Cunningham in an interview following his address to the delegates in Niagara Falls.

Gallagher explained in his interview, “There are some 40 vacancies that are coming up in the next year on the employer and the employee sides on the various trade boards at different levels, and people should be thinking who should be on those boards.

“And the Appointments Council, we have a pool of applications that are presented to us, and if it’s not a very big pool, we have to pick the best. So the idea is to encourage more applications so we have better options in terms of people that are there for the right reason.”

Click here for the full story.

Local 793/183 Agreement Subject of Article

The following article regarding the Mutual Co-operation Agreement between Local 793 and Local 183 was posted in Daily Commercial News.

LIUNA, IUOE locals reach deal on jurisdictional disputes

Two heavyweight construction unions have agreed to set aside years of differences, reaching an agreement to co-operate on a range of issues including establishing a mechanism to avoid jurisdictional disputes.

Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and Labourers’ International Union of North America Local 183 (LIUNA) had negotiated since last fall until an understanding was reached. Their 2017 Mutual Co-operation Agreement was signed in Toronto on Jan. 27 by Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher and Local 183 business manager Jack Oliveira.

“Over the past few years we have been fighting each other rather than working collaboratively,” said Oliveira in a statement announcing the deal. “I am happy we were able to put that behind us, and that we are moving forward to level the playing field. This level of co-operation will be good for our members and for members of Local 793.”

Elements of the pact include a framework for resolving outstanding jurisdictional disputes and avoiding future ones, commitments to work together in organizing and collective agreement enforcement and an agreement on strategies for greater co-operation in utilities work as well as the sewer and watermain, roads and heavy engineering sectors in the Greater Toronto Area, parts of south central Ontario and parts of eastern Ontario.

Click here for rest of story