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April 2017 Newsletter

Apr 28, 2017

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The Liberals are Throwing Injured Workers Under the Bus (Again)

You may have heard that Christy Clark has proposed new legislation that promises employers they will receive millions of dollars earmarked for injured workers.

The way the compensation system works is that employers pay an assessment per $100 of payroll into an “Accident Fund”. In return for this, workers give up the right to sue their employers but are supposed to be guaranteed benefits if they are injured on the job. Employers like this system; it keeps them safe from multi-million dollar lawsuits for negligent operation or dangerous workplaces.

After the Liberals came to power in 2001, they immediately attacked the Workers Compensation system. They took away many rights for injured workers and saved the employers hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing injured worker benefits. They even renamed it WorkSafeBC (rather than SafeworkBC) to shift the emphasis for safety to workers and away from employers.

Just a few of the changes that Christy Clark and the Liberals made:

  • No more pensions for life, just to age 65.
  • Benefits changed from 75% of gross to 90% of net!
  • Those most seriously disabled and living on their WCB pensions had the cost of living increase limited to 1% BELOW the cost of living and never more than 4% no matter how high inflation goes.
  • Canada Pension Plan-Disability is now clawed back by 50%
  • Loss of earnings pensions were made very difficult to get, again for those who are so disabled by injury or occupational disease that they have to live on their WCB pensions, and a loss of income of 25% or less is deemed too insignificant to compensate!

Under the Liberals they even made a policy that employers who won their appeals would get interest on their awards but injured workers who had been living in poverty for years while they fought their appeals would get no interest at all when they finally won!

Now they have done it again. In blatant pandering to the business community Christy Clark and the Liberals have promised that if re-elected they will give even more to employers. The WCB has created surpluses by denying benefits to workers and reducing the benefits that they do get even if accepted. Now there is no room improving those benefits.

Stan Guenther of our office put it this way in a recent povnet post:

The WCB can manage the Accident Fund, including any surplus, in a way that might directly benefit injured workers, i.e. by easing some of the more draconian policies, by paying interest on retroactive entitlements, etc. etc. However, since 2002, the goal has been to ease the burden on employers, a goal well-achieved by the WCB. By forcing the WCB to refund surplus to employers, that power to revise policy to the benefit of injured workers will be limited, and in that regard, clearly the amendment will affect the benefits payable to injured workers. Again.

In 1986 the Socred government of Bill Bennett made a one-time payout to the employers of $99 million from the Accident Fund. There was such a huge uproar from the Labour Community and the NDP that the premier had to set up a Commission of Enquiry about the WCB. The result of this commission was a complete restructuring of the WCB so that it was fairer to workers.

Now they are proposing not a “one-time” payback, but a payback every year! We should all be screaming bloody murder about this outrageous transfer of wealth from workers to employers as a result of whittling down the compensation system.

We all need to remember this: only a change in provincial government will carry with it the possibility of the broad and significant steps required to protect injured workers.

By Sarah O’Leary

2017 Skookumchuck Outage

Late in 2016 Paper Excellence (Skookumchuck) contacted several building trades Unions regarding their 2017 April/May outage. Paper Excellence Representative Mr. Pat Widmeyer stressed how important it was to them that they try to condense their outage as much as possible. Both Union and non-union employers were invited to bid the major work which is a new economizer for the Recovery Boiler.

The Boilermakers agreed to cooperate with the request in order to do what was necessary to insure our work. A revised break schedule similar to what has been tried on other projects was provided. Two half hours breaks, all hours paid will be taken on each workday, please click here to view the Paper Excellence letter. LML was the successful bidder.

Boilermakers Support Local BMX Racer

Boilermakers Lodge 359 along with the Canadian International have sponsored local British Colombia BMX Racer Adicus Bird.

The Comox Valley newspaper has written a article about this talented young lady, the story can be read by clicking here.

Shortly after receiving her sponsorship Adicus sent the Union the following message;

Dear Boilermakers,

My race season is just starting up now and I will be attending the spring nationals from May 12th to May 14th in Chilliwack. I’d like to invite any of your members to come out to see me race on Sunday the 14th. Since the weather hasn’t been good lately (mostly rain), I have training nearly every day at the gym or indoors on my race bike. Also I am working on my website now and it should be up in the next few weeks

Thank you all very much for the donation and the banner!!!

Adicus Bird

Information Regarding Jurisdictional Disputes

 As we are all aware there have been times while working on a specific job site for a signatory contractor when it has been discovered that work in which appears to belong to the jurisdiction of the Boilermakers is being performed by another trade. We have all heard of this scenario or witnessed this ourselves and all thought that something needs to be done to address the situation.

Contained in Article 6.00 of both the CLRA and BCA Standard Provincial Agreements are the processes in which assignments of work are awarded, as well as how adjudication of disputes regarding improper assignments of work are handled.

This process has been utilized many times in the past and has had great success with ensuring our trade boundaries are protected and adhered to. However, there have been instances in which aspects of this Article have not been complied with or simply ignored and the start of a jurisdictional dispute is then created.

In British Columbia since 1978 The Jurisdictional Assignment Plan of the British Columbia Construction Industry or JAPlan has been the forum utilized by the trades for adjudication of jurisdictional disputes. Where there is a disagreement between two or more unions relating to a contractor’s assignment of specific work, application can be made to the JAPlan for a determination as to the appropriate work assignment.

In brief, the intent of creating the JAPlan was to ensure that there was a mechanism to address disputes over work assignments without strikes and work stoppages on the job site, and to eliminate the unnecessary delays and expenses that can occur from such disputes.

Maintenance disputes however are not adjudicated using the JAPlan. For issues that arise regarding jurisdictional disputes in maintenance, the only course of action that can properly address the concern is the grievance procedure outlined in our collective agreements, which unfortunately can take a long time and most certainly the work which was in dispute has most likely been completed.

Something we all need to be mindful of when it comes to a dispute regarding our jurisdiction is how we conduct ourselves on the job while waiting for a decision. It can be very easy to become consumed with the thought of simply taking the work back through whatever means possible, or slowing or impeding parts of our other work until we are satisfied that our concerns are being addressed. Unfortunately taking actions such as these creates further barriers and difficulties with our clients who ultimately pay the price.

It is imperative that we respect the processes which are in place to ensure that we don’t create an even bigger issue than the jurisdictional dispute and to show our clients that we are worth hiring every step of the way. In other words, we need to continue working as though nothing has happened and let the process take it’s course.

Actions to Take When Confronted With a Possible Dispute Over Jurisdiction:

  • Talk to your Job Steward and identify the work that is considered in dispute. (often there are mark-up documents that can address certain concerns)
  • Contact the Union to ensure the administration is aware so that if required, an application can be filled out to the JAPlan to request a hearing. Timing is crucial as an Umpire will not hear matters regarding work that has been completed (on occasion certain disputes may be remedied through a phone call).
  • Be patient. It can sometimes feel as though nothing is happening or materializing fast enough. There is a lot going on behind the scenes to have disputes heard and hopefully awarded in our favor.

Ensuring Trade boundaries are respected has always been somewhat of a struggle but nonetheless is one of the most important aspects that must be undertaken to ensure future employment opportunities for Boilermakers.

Apprenticeship and Trade Advancement

The table below represents 5 levels of Apprentice training achieved as compared to the total number of work hours for each level and the number of Apprentices which fall into each catagory.

BM 01 is Foundation, BM 02 is Level 2 Upgrade, BM 03 is Level 3 Upgrade, BM 04 is Level 4 Refresher Course, BM IP is Boilermaker Inter-Provincial Red Seal.

BM – 01 17 0 0 0 0 0 17
BM – 02 31 8 4 4 0 0 47
BM – 03 4 10 10 1 0 4 29
BM – 04 0 2 0 0 1 0 3
BM – IP 0 7 12 2 10 9 40
TOTALS 52 27 26 7 11 13 136
Course Type Location Dates
Apprentice Level 2 Upgrade BCIT October 16 to November 17
Apprentice Level 2 Upgrade BCIT November 20 to December 22

Site C Update

Voith Hydro Canada was awarded the $470-millon Site C Turbines & Generators contract on April 6, 2017. Voith will design, supply and install six vertical turbines, six generators, plus associated equipment. About one hundred fifty workers will be on site during the peak of installation, all Trades included.

In 2015 Voith Hydro Canada negotiated a labour agreement with the Bargaining Council of British Columbia Building Trades Unions (BCBCBTU). The BCBCBTU represents construction craft unions in BC. A copy of the collective agreement can be viewed or downloaded on the “Membership” page of our website.

Business Representatives Jordan Streng and Dave French visited the work site Monday April 3rd as Voith prepared to start constructing a temporary fabrication shop. The shop is to be completed by the end of August. Eight to twelve Boilermakers are expected to be on site as early as September of this year for up to two years of fabrication before the powerhouse installation begins.

The procurement, fabrication and erection of six penstocks each 10 meters in diameter and 80 meters in length have not been awarded at this point. Aecon, Bechtel, Kiewit and Peace River Hydro Partners are all on the short list of bidders.

Lodge 359 Staff

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