Category Archives: Union News

Letter to the Editor

Following is a letter to the editor from Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher that was published in Daily Commercial News on Jan. 18, 2018.

To The Editor:

I would like to respond to a letter to the editor entitled “Allow Sault Ste. Marie to procure projects openly now, says CLAC,” that was in the Jan. 4, 2018 edition of the DCN.

As business manager of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), which represents nearly 15,000 crane and heavy equipment operators across the province, I find the letter offensive as it contains inaccuracies and doesn’t provide a true picture of the value-added benefits provided by building trades unions like ours.

The letter was highly critical of the tendering process in Sault Ste. Marie and contains misleading statements that need to be corrected.

The author of the letter implies only companies that have contracts with the Labourers’ or Carpenters’ are allowed to bid on city projects, but that is simply not the case. We do not have an agreement with the city, but companies that are signatory to Local 793 have bid on, and been successful in winning, municipal contracts.

The assertion that unionized construction is more costly is also absurd. The information came from Cardus, a think-tank co-founded by a former representative of CLAC. The fact of the matter is that unionized construction sites are much safer than non-union construction sites, therefore leading to fewer lost-time injuries and claims.

In 2015, a study done by the Institute for Work & Health that was funded by the Ontario Construction Secretariat found workers in unionized workplaces have 23 per cent less lost-time claims resulting in time off work than their non-union counterparts. Unionized workers were also almost 30 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries. The reason is unions do a better job of educating workers through apprenticeship skills training and have more effective health and safety programs and practices. The safety and efficiency benefits of using well-trained building trades unions may not appear on the balance sheet, but are financial benefits that can not be discounted.

Unions also bring value-added benefits to workers and communities. Provincial building trades unions like ours place a huge emphasis on educating and training members. Local 793, for example, has centres in Oakville and Morrisburg that provide top-notch training to apprentices and members. This training pays off in the form of safer and more efficient workers, which translates into lower accident rates. Having such training centres also helps address the issue of significant skills shortages in construction.

We also provide excellent pension and health benefits. The benefits are not for the unions themselves, but are for the members who are citizens of the Sault Ste. Marie community. More than two-thirds of Ontarians do not have a workplace pension. We take pension planning seriously and make sure we negotiate collective agreements that provide for our members in retirement. Presently, our pension plan assets are more than $2.5 billion.

Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, the City of Sault Ste. Marie is deemed a construction employer. However, the author of the letter suggests that be changed. The City of Toronto crossed the same bridge in 2008 and their own staff report indicated there would be a mere 1.7-per-cent savings to the city at most if they were deemed a non-construction employer and it was recommended it not be pursued at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Sault Ste. Marie should not attempt to change its status as a construction employer, as has been suggested in the letter. The city is a construction employer and it should stay that way, plain and simple.

Instead of spending tax dollars trying to get rid of building trades unions, the city perhaps should consider the real benefits of creating a level playing field in competitions for city work and follow the example of the province, federal government, Toronto, Hamilton, Oshawa, London and Thunder Bay in adopting its own Fair Wage Policy.

Sincerely,

Mike Gallagher
Business Manager
IUOE Local 793

Direct Deposit Option for Members

Please be reminded that Local 793 members can sign up for a direct deposit option to receive reimbursements for health and benefit claims electronically.

To set up the payments, an Electronic Claims Payment Reimbursement Form must be filled out and returned to the Global Benefits Claims Department with a void cheque for the bank account to which the payments will be deposited.

The form can be found in the members section of the union website at www.iuoelocal793.org.

The form can be mailed with a void cheque to:

Global Benefits Claims Department
88 St. Regis Crescent South
Toronto, Ont.
M3J 1Y8

Any member who has questions can call 416-635-6000.

Happy New Year from Business Manager Gallagher

On behalf of the officers, executive board and staff of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, I would like to wish all union members and families a Happy New Year.

As one year draws to a close and another begins, it’s time to take stock, reflect and plan for the future.

Looking back, 2017 was a very successful year for our local. We continue to grow and now have more than 14,500 members, making us the biggest Operating Engineers local in Canada.

Financially, the union is doing well. Our pension plan continues to grow and now has assets of more than $2.6 billion. The year-to-date unaudited gross return to Nov. 30, 2017 was about 8.8 per cent – well ahead of the six-per-cent needed for the plan to stay healthy.

The life and health benefits plan remains on solid footing and we introduced a health spending account of $400 which members can use to top-up current benefits.

Our organizers, meanwhile, were busy in 2017. As of Dec. 12, we’d signed 98 voluntary recognition agreements, bringing in 233 new bargaining unit employees. We also received 13 certificates from the Ontario Labour Relations Board, representing another 92 workers.

We continue to make organizing inroads with Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. in Nunavut. Our organizers have been meeting with employees of Baffinland and officials from the company have requested that some of their workers be trained at the OETIO in Morrisburg.

We signed a couple of important agreements in 2017 – one being a Mutual Co-operation Agreement with Local 183 of the Labourers’ International Union of North America. Based on reports from our business reps and area supervisors, the agreement has been working and our unions are working collaboratively on organizing and other activities.

We also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Aecon Group Inc., which is being purchased by CCCC International (CCCCI) Holding Ltd. of China. The agreement confirms that our collective agreements will be honoured and our relationship with Aecon will not change.

Like all good organizations, however, we are not content to rest on our laurels and are looking to the future. 2018 will be an equally exciting year for us, as we have a lot of irons in the fire.

We’re discussing plans for the 6.14 acres of property next to head office in Oakville that we purchased in the summer, and in the spring will begin expansion of the OE Banquet Hall in Oakville. When completed, it will be 70 per cent larger with capacity for 1,000 people.

We also intend build a student residence on our property in Oakville to accommodate apprentices and members who train at the OETIO. Presently, they must stay at area hotels.

In an effort to provide better service to our members, trustees of the Pension and Life & Health Benefits trust funds have agreed to move forward on an ambitious plan to self-administer the funds. This isn’t a reflection in any way on the staff at Global Benefits whom we have worked with, and received excellent service from, for so many years. Rather, it is reflective of our growth and the desire to have all the services of pension and benefits at our head office property in Oakville. I expect it will take about two years to implement this ambitious changeover and details will be provided as they become available.

On the political front, a provincial election will be held in the spring. We have worked co-operatively with the Liberals on issues like mandatory training for drill rig operators and ensuring renewable energy projects remain part of the plan going forward. In the run-up to the election, we will be working to make Local 793 members aware of the facts so they are not swayed by misinformation.

In the coming year, we will also be preparing for the 100th anniversary of our union in 2019. We intend to hold picnics and events in various districts and will be selling special anniversary items such as pocket watches, rings, key chains, lapel pins and belt buckles on our website.

So yes, 2018 should be an exciting year.

I would like to thank all members for their support over the last year and wish you all the best in the New Year.

The officers and I intend to keep Local 793 growing so that we can continue to better the lives of our members and their families

I look forward to reporting on the progress of our union and plans at future monthly and general membership meetings.

Fraternally Yours,

Mike Gallagher
Business Manager
IUOE Local 793

Season’s Greetings from Business Manager Gallagher

On behalf of the officers, executive and staff of IUOE Local 793, I would like to wish our union members and families across the province the very best during this joyful holiday season.

I hope that your holidays are filled with festivities and plenty of merry enjoyment.

The yuletide season comes but once a year and I would encourage all members to embrace the true spirit of Christmas.

It is a time for giving, remembering the past and hoping for the future.

It is a time for enjoying good food and reflecting on what’s important in life.

It is also a time for goodwill and compassion.

Often, we get so wrapped up in our daily routines and work lives that we forget about those who are most important to us – our families, our parents, our children. Christmas is a time to reconnect with loved ones, recharge the batteries and perhaps enjoy some holiday cheer.

I hope that your holidays are filled with festivities and plenty of merry enjoyment. I hope that the Christmas season fills your home with the warmth and joyfulness that you and your family deserve.

Thank you for your support throughout the year. Again, please accept my best wishes for the holiday season.

Fraternally Yours,

Mike Gallagher
Business Manager
IUOE Local 793

 
 

Union Moving to Self-administration Model

On behalf of the Local 793 trustees, officers and executive board, we’re pleased to announce that we are moving to a self-administration model for our Pension, Life & Health Benefits and Pre-Paid Legal Services starting January 1, 2020.

As of that date, all plan administration services currently provided by Global Benefits will be managed by a separate administration company, established by the union solely for that purpose.

“The trustees, officers and executive board of Local 793 are always looking for ways to improve services and better the lives of our members and their families,” said Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher. “This will allow us to better serve both active members and retirees.”

Why we’re making this change

In June 2017, a Benefits Administration Sub-Committee (BAC) was established to conduct a detailed review of the services provided by Global Benefits and report back to the trustees.

Based on the review, the BAC concluded that moving to self-administration offers many advantages for our plan members, including:

  • Full control over all aspects of plan administration;
  • Better and faster member service, including online submission of health and dental claims;
  • Ability to invest in up-to-date technology and practices; and
  • Potential for significant long-term cost savings.

“There is a potential for significant cost-savings to the union by self-administering the Pension, Life & Health Benefits and Legal Services plans,” noted Gallagher. “It will also enable us to keep pace with technological advances and speed up the reimbursement process by enabling members to go online to submit medical or dental claims – something members have demanded.”

Next steps

To help ensure a smooth transition, the trustees will be engaging a consultant to advise on implementing the new structure – including setting up the administration company, hiring a chief executive officer and staff for the company, and developing an administration system to integrate with the union’s current member reporting database.

The existing arrangement with Global Benefits will continue until the January 1, 2020 transition date. We’ll provide more details on the change process and implications on member claims processes in upcoming editions of 793 Operator.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction for our union and our members,” added Gallagher. “By self-administering the plans, we will be able to save the union money, keep pace with technological advances and better serve our members.”

 
 

Supervisor Recognized for Work with Indigenous Peoples

Northeastern Ontario area supervisor Robert Turpin was recently recognized for his work with Indigenous peoples.

He received a framed Statement of Partnership between Local 793 and the Chiefs of Ontario from the Métis Nation of Ontario and artisan Kathryn Malo in recognition of his work in helping to foster strong relations between the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

Robert is a registered Métis citizen with the Métis Nation of Ontario.

The frame incorporates the Métis sash, which surrounds the agreement. A blue Infinity Flag is at the bottom as a universal symbol of the Métis culture, along with a medicine wheel, which is a visual representation used by many First Nations and incorporates colours representing the houses of man, and animals representing First Nations clans – the turtle, buffalo, eagle and bear.

In the middle at the bottom is Local 793’s logo, which includes an inuksuk.

The agreement is lined with blue to represent the union.

From L to R in the photo are EPSCA business rep Larry Richard, Northeastern Ontario area supervisor Robert Turpin, Timmins business rep and former Métis Nation of Ontario employee Kirk Fournier, and Sault Ste. Marie business rep and Garden River First Nations member Rob Catling.

 
 
 
 
 

IUOE Training Centre to Open in Spring 2018

The following article on the IUOE Training and Conference Center outside of Houston, Texas, was posted Dec. 14, 2017 on the Association of Equipment Manufacturers website. 

Manufacturers Sought as Partners on Equipment Operator Training Complex

The union that represents 400,000 North American equipment operators, mechanics, welders, surveyors and stationary engineers wants to revolutionize how the workforce gets trained on new technology, and is forming creative partnerships with equipment manufacturers as they prepare to open a massive training complex outside of Houston.

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) is launching the training center and entering into partnership agreements with several prominent members of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). Brands like Tadano, Manitowoc, Grove, Potain, Link-Belt, Terex AWP and Genie will provide heavy equipment on which workers will receive training at the center. Discussions are also underway with other prominent manufacturers.

“It’s to everyone’s benefit to expand the pool of highly-trained, technologically-savvy equipment operators,” says IUOE President James T. Callahan. “We have heard the appeals of employers all around the country who are having a hard time getting enough qualified workers on their job sites, and the only way to meet that demand is by creating new, cutting edge opportunities to receive training.”

Scheduled for completion early in 2018 and a grand opening in the spring, the IUOE Training and Conference Center is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive training complex. It features 235 acres of rugged Texas back country as a venue for IUOE members to learn how to operate the latest technology in the heavy equipment, crane, pipeline, surveying and stationary plant domains.

Click here to read rest of article

 

Pension Calculator Updated on Union Website

An updated pension calculator is now active on the members’ section of the union website.

The updated calculator can now be used by mobile phones and tablets as well as traditional computers.

The calculator will now function on computers, iPad’s, iPhones, Androids and other mobile platforms. 

Once you log in to the members’ section via the tab at the top right of this screen, click on the button ‘Calculate Pension’ and follow the prompts to launch the pension calculator.

 

Legislative Changes will Benefit Local 793 Members

Legislation known as Bill 142, which updates and modernizes the province’s Construction Lien Act, was passed with a unanimous vote by the Ontario government on Dec. 5.

Local 793 was very active in lobbying for the amendments over a two-year period and in October 2016 the union’s director of operations Ken Lew and delinquency control officer Jeff Smith met with Attorney General Yasir Naqvi to discuss the matter. In November 2017, the union filed a submission to a government legislative committee that considered the Bill.

The union was also part of Prompt Payment Ontario, a broad coalition of contractor associations, unions, suppliers, general contractors, pension trust funds and other groups that joined together to persuade government that legislation should be enacted in Ontario to ensure that money flows as it is intended down the contractor supply chain.

Bill 142, officially called the Construction Lien Amendment Act, ensures that the rights and securities of Ontario’s construction workers will now be held to a much higher standard.

“This is the biggest change to our construction laws in over 34 years,” said Attorney General Naqvi. “These changes will have a real impact on people’s lives, giving workers assurance they will be paid on time and in full, and help to ensure disputes are resolved quickly.”

The legislation includes new prompt payment rules to ensure that Ontario construction businesses and workers will get paid on time for the work that they do. Basically, it should help payments flow down the construction pyramid faster and reduce delays, costs, and equally important, prevent workers going home without the payments that they’ve earned.

The changes will also modernize the lien and holdback process, and set out a new adjudication process to resolve payment disputes faster.

From Local 793’s perspective, passage of the legislation is good news.

In 2016 alone, Local 793 collected about $22 million in late trust fund payments from delinquent contractors on behalf of members. Contractors often articulated that delays in payment from the general contractor were the reasons for late payments to the union.

There are several components to the new legislation.

Prompt Payment:

The legislation creates new prompt payment rules to give contractors and subcontractors certainty about when to expect payment.

Local 793 believes this new section will be one of the most vital tools to help reduce the number of delinquent contractors and late payments of trust fund monies to the union for members’ health and welfare and pension benefits. The amendments will ensure funds move through the construction pyramid quicker and therefore result in a benefit to workers, as wages and benefit payments to employees are often at the bottom of the pyramid.

Often, a contractor is delinquent because the contractor’s invoices haven’t been paid in a timely manner and the contractor doesn’t have the necessary funds to pay wages and remittances.

Local 793 believes that a robust and well-executed prompt payment section in the legislation will reduce these types of delinquencies.

Liens:

Amendments relating to the preservation, perfection and expiry of liens is a crucial improvement.

The legislation extends the timelines to file liens and start court actions from 90 days to 150 days.

Increasing the number of days for the preservation and protection period for liens will give contractors and subcontractors more time to hopefully resolve matters outside of court, before making it necessary to register or start a lien action. Local 793 will also have more time to file a lien.

Local 793 is also pleased that the legislation clarifies the expiry date of a lien period for amounts owing for a workers’ trust fund. This change makes is clear that the lien rights for all trust fund amounts only expire 60 days after the final worker leaves the jobsite, as opposed to expiring on a worker-by-worker basis.

Holdback Funds:

The legislation requires holdback funds to be paid as soon as the deadline to file liens has passed, so contractors and subcontractors know when to expect full payment.

Local 793 supports this because it will help get funds down the construction pyramid faster.

Work typically done by Local 793 subcontractors, such as earthmoving, excavation and crane rental, often occurs in the early stages of a project. Under the old rules, general contractors could maintain the holdback for years until the project is completed.

Such a long delay in the holdback period could affect contractors and subcontractors and ultimately payments to their workers.

Construction Trusts:

The legislation introduces a new section related to the handling of construction trusts. This had been an area of great concern.

It imposes duties on contractors and subcontractors to have funds by project deposited in a specific manner and for records to be kept by project.

This ultimately protects and strengthens the statutory holdback funds for those it was created to look after.

Monetary Supplement Benefits:

The legislation also adds a definition of “monetary supplementary benefits” to make it more understandable that health and welfare benefit payments, pension payments or other similar amounts constitute the “wages” on behalf of an employee.

The amounts have always been included as “wages” in prior liens filed by Local 793 but the definition will help to provide clarity to an ongoing and common practice.

Again, the legislation further provides that Local 793 operators will get paid on time for the work that they do and that monies for trust funds are protected. It also provides for a better and faster adjudication process for payment disputes.