Sheet metal workers’ strike continues as negotiations end abruptly

sheet metal workers outside contractors associaion
Sheet Metal Workers' Union members picketing outside the Toronto Sheet Metal Contractors Association offices on Wednesday (Sheet Metal Workers' Union Local 30 Facebook page)

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Negotiations to resolve the strike of unionized sheet metal workers ended abruptly on Wednesday, the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union reports.

In a memo to members, the union said that, after presenting a revised offer by email, the contractors agreed to meet with the union in Mississauga on Wednesday.

“We made significant progress throughout the day and believed that we were going to continue bargaining throughout the evening and into the night,” the negotiators reported.

“Meeting space was booked and further bargaining sessions were scheduled to continue. Virtually all of the Local Unions reached tentative agreements with their local associations.

“At approximately 7:00 pm on Wednesday June 19, 2019 the Contractors Association walked out on bargaining without any notice to the Union. No explanation was given to the Union for this abrupt end to bargaining. They simply walked out. We have no further information to provide to you at this time.”

The dispute continues to primarily be about hours of work and union hiring hall assignment rights. In their most recent offer, the employers reduced their 40 hour workweek to a 37.5 hour schedule. “Specifically the Sheet Metal Contractors’ Association demanded that 85 per cent (of) our members work 37 ½ hours at straight time instead of the existing 36 hour work week and further that our members give up control over our hiring halls,” the negotiators reported.

“Your negotiation team met with the Sheet Metal Contractors’ Association again on Monday June 10, 2019 and attempted to make various proposals to meet the needs of our members and end this strike. On Thursday June 13, 2019 the Contractors’ Association provided a written counter proposal that was virtually identical to the offer made on April 27, 2019. This proposal still contained demands for significant concessions.

“Your negotiation team immediately prepared a counter proposal to this most recent offer and communicated this offer to the Contractors’ Association on Friday June 14. At this time your negotiation team sought a face-to-face meeting with the contractors to end this strike. In addition your local unions communicated significant counter proposals to their Local Contractors’ Associations throughout the weekend of June 15 to Monday June 18.”

The negotiators say they will be meeting today “with legal counsel to consider how best to move these matters forward and get all of our members back to work.”

The strike started at the beginning of May. At present, sheet metal workers are the only group of workers on strike, but ultimately the dispute is causing delays and costs for construction jobs where their skills are essential.

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