Today at the campaign event where the BC Liberals pledged to resurrect the Massey Bridge project, they also mentioned they would abolish ‘community benefit agreements’. Those are by definition a ‘project labour agreement’ that typically involved a group unions and has terms that outline apprenticeships and training for those working on major infrastructure projects.
CBA’s or PLA’s are hated by anti-union campaigners, such as the benefactors of the BC Liberal Party, and various other big business groups; and they’ve been challenged in court before…and upheld at the highest level.
PLA’s built the WAC Bennett Dam in the north and a host of other major things. They’re good as they assure labour stability throughout the life of a project, pay good wages for front line workers, and provide skilled trades training for up-and-coming trades folks looking for a career building things.
Not for the BC Liberals.
The BC version of PLA’s are the CBA’s that have unique terms that require community benefits – such as hiring more women and first nations people (and other under-represented communities) into their ranks. Learning a skilled trade that pays $45+ per hour is financial liberation for many folks who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to reach that far. These are high skilled, upper middle class, lots-of-tax paying, family supporting careers. Why wouldn’t we want this?
Ask the BC Liberals.
The CBA’s are the NDP’s effort to re-establish the skilled trades apprenticeship programs that were gutted by the BC Liberals in their 16 year regime of failure. To be sure, things needed to get built as well – and the BC Liberals did – but they had another angle on this. Their plan was for ‘open-shop’ anti-union operations and an unusual reliance on temporary foreign workers to do work that BC folks could have been trained for.
Because it was cheaper.
In doing so, the BC Liberals created a skills shortage in the 16 years they were in power. It wasn’t pronounced at first, but as the skilled industrial trades aged and retired out of the workforce, this cost issue flipped on them – now it became more expensive to hire these foreign workers to work, then expensive repair work after the fact…when they could have done it right the first time.
Here we are in 2020 with the BC Liberals promising a return to the old ways that cost BC so much and ruined a generation of proud skilled trades workers. Catching up is going to be expensive, but it will cost even more if these clowns get a chance to set us back again.