Low-rise electricians return to work with tentative settlement

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IBEW local 383 representatives participate at the national day of mourning on April 26 (Photo courtesy Meaghan Horn)

Ontario Construction News staff writer

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) members are voting to ratify a new three year contract with electrical contractors working in the low-rise residential sector, ending a nearly three-week strike that will cause some delays residential construction.

Andrew Pariser, vice-president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) says electrical negotiations are handled by the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO) and he declined to discuss details of the conflict that led to the strike or how the issue was resolved.

Electricians went on strike on May 1 and were mobilizing to return to the job as the Victoria Day long weekend holiday concluded.

Parisier said delays in closings will vary depending on “how complete the house was.”
He said most unionized trades within the residential sector have either settled or are preparing to ratify their new agreements. There are still a few agreements outstanding, but he believes there won’t be further labour disruptions in the low-rise sector. “Over 90 per cent of collective agreements get renewed without any labour disputes,” he said. “We’re very hopeful.”

The situation in the high-rise market is less clear, union and employer representatives indicate. Sheet metal workers, who generally handle cladding on high rise projects, are still on strike and the issues involving hours of work and union hiring hall “naming” rights remain unresolved. As well, the plumbers and pipefitters unions have reported that their counterpart employer bargaining authorities are calling for the same changes – with employers seeking an increase to a 40-hour work-week, and insisting that they rather than the union have the right to select which workers are hired from the union hiring hall. However, the IBEW has settled its high rise agreement, retaining existing working conditions and hours.

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