Sheet metal workers ratify new three year agreement

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Sheet metal workers in Ottawa line up to sign in for their ratification vote on Tuesday

Despite some grumbling and tensions, especially in Sheet Metal Workers’ Union Toronto Local 30, the union has ratified its new three year contract, bringing to the end one of the messiest and most protracted Ontario construction labour disputes in three decades.

In a statement, the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofers’ Conference said the sheet metal workers’ negotiating team reached a tentative agreement on June 28 with the Ontario Sheet Metal Contractors Association (OSMCA) to renew the Sheet Metal ICI Collective Agreement.

“Every member of the negotiating team and all local unions strongly recommended ratification of the tentative agreement,” the statement said.

“Ratification votes were held throughout the week of June 29 to July 6 2019 throughout Ontario.

“The Tentative Agreement has been ratified and the Sheet Metal ICI Collective Agreement for May 1, 2019 to April 30, 2022 is finalized.

“Your negotiation team wishes to again extend their thanks to our members and their families for their support on the picket line, at the union meetings and in our communities,”

The union did not release voting percentage or vote number counts.

While the union released data on hourly wage agreements for different locals, and confirmed that existing 36-hour work-week would remain in place in Toronto (Local 30) and some other areas, some members grumbled about concessions to employers who have been arguing that existing four-day work week and union hiring hall “naming” and relation rules were unsustainable at a time of extreme labour shortages and growing competition from non-union competitors.

OSMCA executive director Darryl Stewart had said that signatory contractors only have about 22 per cent market share in Toronto. In an earlier interview, Stewart said the employers are less concerned about whether the union can have control over dispatching workers from the hiring hall or allowing employers to select their workers through the naming process, than that the union sets out in the collective agreement the clear rules for its hiring hall policies.

Documentation from the union doesn’t clarify whether it acceded to this negotiating request, nor another sensitive issue – the hiring of additional apprentices and reducing the apprentice/journeyman ratio.

In postings on the Local 30 Facebook site, some members were enthusiastic about the agreement as others said the union failed to hold out on key matters, and thus is falling behind compensation for other trades.

Supporters of the agreement, however, noted that several locals elsewhere in the province, along with residential sheet metal workers in the GTA, have allowed naming  rights and a 40 hour work-week that had been demanded by ICI employers in the Toronto area. Members of all the locals, including those in northern, eastern and Western Ontario held out and supported the two-month long strike, even though they had little to gain from the lengthy dispute.

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