Site C Dam – Penstocks

Site C Penstock Installation

As most of you are aware, the Boilermakers currently employed at the Site C Dam are working under a Special Project Needs Agreement (SPNA) negotiated for the Turbine and Generator project (T&G). This contract was awarded by BC Hydro to Voith Hydro Inc. Fabrication work of the T&G components is being performed on site by a company named Groupe LAR by way of a sub-contract from Voith Hydro.

Separate and apart from the T&G work at Site C is another large construction contract, the Generating Station and Spillways Civil Works. Within this scope of work are the Penstocks. BC Hydro has awarded this portion of work to Aecon-Flatiron-Dragados-EBC Partnership. Subsequently the joint venture partnership has awarded a sub-contract to Groupe LAR to construct the Penstocks.

Late last year, the Boilermakers held a vote at site in an attempt to certify Groupe LAR. As a part of the process, hearings were held at the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to determine the validity of the vote and to deal with any objections to the certification application.

From the beginning of the certification drive the outcome was unclear even though we were certain that members working for Groupe LAR would have voted 100% in favour. As a result of the uncertainty, in December of 2018 the Union engaged in talks with Employer about establishing an agreement similar to the T&G SPNA.

We are very pleased to announce that as of January 9, 2019 an agreement for the installation of the Penstocks and all attachments at Site C has been secured, work is set to begin as early as April of this year. In lieu of reaching this agreement the Union has withdrawn the certification application. The new Penstock SPNA is posted on our web page under Membership/Collective Agreements.

A little bit of background on this subject.

Early in 2018 the Boilermakers were approached by Groupe LAR and offered to sign on to a Poly-Party Collective Agreement signed by three trades, the Labourers, Operators and CMAW. At this time it was a take it or leave offer, with an ultimatum that if we declined then the Penstock work would be given to another affiliate, namely CMAW. This agreement was negotiated without the knowledge or consent of the BCBCBTU, the Bargaining Council.

Shortly after this initial meeting the application to have Groupe LAR certified was initiated with a looming fear that the Boilermakers could lose out on this opportunity in its entirety. After discussing a number of concerns with the contractor and hearing theirs, the Boilermakers were successful in resolving our differences through the bargaining process and withdrew the LRB certification application which could have gone either way.

Should the Boilermakers have lost the Groupe LAR certification application bid without bargaining an agreement then the Penstock work most certainly would have gone to others including the non-union.