CLAC’s Open Letter on BC-style Community Benefits Agreements and Double Breasting in Alberta
CLAC has submitted an open letter to Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley regarding recent comments pertaining to CBAs and double breasting within the province
Today, CLAC submitted an open letter to Rachel Notley, Alberta NDP leader, regarding recent comments pertaining to Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) and double breasting within the province.
The full letter is included below.
Re: CLAC’s Comments on BC-style Community Benefits Agreements and Double Breasting
Dear Ms. Notley,
CLAC is the largest independent multisector trade union in Alberta. It has become increasingly apparent to our members that the NDP’s support of BC-style Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) is a detriment to their livelihood and to the progress and financial health of the province. These programs not only discriminate against workers employed by companies not covered under the Building Trades Unions agreements but also increase the taxpayer cost of what should be straightforward infrastructure projects.
When your party recently spoke in favour of implementing CBAs in Alberta similar to what has been in place in BC since April 2018, our representatives and members took note. As we have seen in BC, CBAs have consistently failed the communities they were purported to benefit, creating barriers for local companies and their employees—the very people who build and support the cities and towns in which this construction work occurs—by preventing them from bidding on lucrative public infrastructure projects.
A recent example of the ways in which CBAs cause harm is the Cowichan District Hospital replacement project in Duncan, BC, where a company owned by a Cowichan Tribes member is unable to participate in project contracts, simply because its workers do not belong to a union covered by the province’s CBAs and despite the fact that the project is on their traditional territory. It’s clear that opening public infrastructure projects to bidding from all companies, regardless of union affiliation, is the only way to avoid this kind of unjustified discrimination. Moreover, this style of open tendering is more consistent with the NDP’s approach to achieving an inclusive society.
CLAC supports government efforts to build stronger communities and include underrepresented groups in community construction projects. Through our Indigenous initiatives, apprenticeship and training programs, and our partnership with Women Building Futures, CLAC has provided pathways into the skilled trades for underrepresented groups.
Our organization recognizes that CBAs in some form are here to stay. To be clear, we support CBAs under the condition that the process used to create and implement such agreements is fair, open, and inclusive.
Another point of concern is the suggestion that your government will do away with “double breasting,” wherein the employees of a business within a corporate group decide to organize with a union different from another already representing units within that same group.
CLAC supports and advocates for a pluralistic labour relations environment that gives workers choice. Double breasting has been the norm for decades and recognizes the dynamic environment that is the Alberta construction sector. Competition among unions is critical to ensure that workers receive the best service possible. To create public policy that removes competition and choice only serves to create labour monopolies, which will benefit one group at the expense of all others and does nothing to advance the interests of Alberta workers. For many years, Alberta has been able to successfully build construction projects of all sizes using a flexible and inclusive model that encapsulates worker choice as a key component. Now is not the time to change that—and in fact, doing so would appear inconsistent with NDP policy.
We hope that you will take these points into consideration if you succeed in the upcoming general election. We also invite you to join us in a conversation regarding these important considerations at a time that is convenient to you.
CLAC Prairies Director