There are persistent rumours in the construction industry of a possible strike. It is true that currently, four unions are in a legal strike position. Those unions include the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 721, Labourers International Union of North America, Local 615, Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers, Local 1 Nova Scotia, and the International Union of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers, Local 752. It is expected that those unions will initiate strike action in the very near future.
Carpenters Local 83 is NOT in a strike position. We have agreed in principle to new terms and conditions for our collective agreement and are in the process of ratifying the offer. It is expected that we will conclude a new agreement without the necessity of a strike.
You likely have questions about what is going to happen if there is a strike by the other unions. The first thing you must understand is that we are not on strike. Since we are not in a legal strike, we are legally required to go to work. Article 3 of our collective agreement with the employers prohibits us from taking any action which will interfere with or stop the efficient operation of construction work, unless we are in a legal strike position. Furthermore, the collective agreement provides that any worker who wrongfully interferes with work will be subjected to disciplinary action.
So, what happens if you arrive at work and there is a picket line? First of all, your Shop Steward should contact the Union immediately. If there is no Shop Steward, contact the Union yourself.
If your employer insists that you go to work, you are legally required to do so. However, it may be the case that due to the integrated functions of the various construction unions, your employer may not be able to perform any work so there will be no work for you. For example, some work will be dependant on the use of a crane. If there is no crane, there may be no work for you to perform.
If your employer requires you to work, but there is a picket line and an unsafe situation such as a physical barrier to accessing the jobsite, or a potential for physical violence, threats or harassment, DO NOT put yourself in an unsafe situation. Again, have your Shop Steward contact the Union immediately. We will liaise with the striking unions, the employer, the owner and the police to create a safe environment for you to access your worksite. Do not put yourself in an unsafe situation, and do not do anything to make a bad situation worse such as physically forcing your way through a picket line.
Hopefully, the parties can resolve their issues and a strike can be avoided. We will do our best to keep you informed, and to represent your interests.
Union Contact, Scott Keeping 902-430-6882
Provincial Manager Local 83