Coalition Urges BC Supreme Court to Strike Down Horgan Government's Public Infrastructure Rules
Vancouver, BC—The NDP government’s labour framework for building public infrastructure projects violates the rights of 85 percent of BC’s construction workforce and should be struck down, according to a coalition of BC’s largest construction associations and progressive unions representing the vast majority of the province’s construction workforce. The legal proceedings begin today in the BC Supreme Court.
“Freezing 85 percent of construction workers out of taxpayer-funded projects is unfair, discriminatory, and just plain wrong,” said Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association. “Clearly, the Horgan government will stop at nothing to reward its Building Trades Union (BTU) buddies, even if it means skirting the law.”
Currently, BTU membership is mandatory for workers to build public projects in BC, even though the BTUs constitute just 15 percent of the province’s construction workforce.
“The Horgan government is robbing workers of their basic constitutional rights, including freedom of association,” says Ryan Bruce, BC Manager of Government Relations for CLAC. “Rather than giving the workers the right to choose whether to belong to a union—and which union to belong to—this government has made the decision for them.”
“Being discriminated against based on the union I have chosen violates my rights – and many of my fellow members—and makes us mad,” says Dave Fuoco, a CLAC member with over 40 years’ experience in the construction industry. “How is it that a government that says they stand up for workers’ rights is willing to violate our rights?”
The coalition is challenging the new procurement policy imposed by the NDP government.
“The Horgan government is exercising its authority for an illegal purpose,” says Peter Gall, the lawyer representing the coalition. “As a result, the constitutional rights of 85 percent of the province’s construction workers are being violated.”
BC’s framework for building public infrastructure is costly for workers and the public. This outdated construction model creates more red tape and bureaucracy, increasing construction costs by tens of millions of dollars for BC taxpayers.
Four construction associations (the British Columbia Construction Association, the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, the Independent Contractors and Business Association, and the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada) and two progressive unions (Canada West Union and CLAC) representing 85 percent of BC’s construction workforce, have joined the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and several construction companies, professionals, and workers in launching the lawsuit aimed at halting restrictive labour policies in BC’s construction industry.