Thursday, March 01, 2007

Labour Shortage = Union Busting

The only labour shortage in Alberta is finding unskilled folks to work at Timmies, and even there they are now paying $14 an hour plus benefits. But as for skilled labour, well they are working there too because they can't find jobs through the Merit Contractors and their business pals like CNRL and the Padrone's of CLAC.

These guys being anti-union would rather hire temporary workers for $14 dollars an hour no benefits. To do union jobs that pay over $22 an hour with benefits.

Worker shortage a 'myth' - union
'Lots of skilled people in province'
Alberta's labour shortage is a myth, says the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Tim Brower, IBEW Local 424 business manager, says non-union contractors are using the "myth" of a labour shortage to bring in temporary foreign workers who are taking away jobs from Albertans. "There is a shortage of unskilled people in this province. I won't deny that," he told reporters at the legislature yesterday. "Tim Hortons is looking for people. 7-Eleven is looking for people ... but when it comes to skilled people in this province, there is no shortage. I am the expert. I have them available."Brower said 1,000 electricians in his union are unemployed or working other jobs because they can't find work in their trade. "I have run into my members working at Home Depot handing out electrical components," he said. "Some of them are driving trucks.

And since our new Minister of Human Resources; Monte Solberg loves his Timmies it's no wonder he is joining his pals in the non-union construction sector in Alberta calling for more Temporary Workers. Thats so more unionized workers can get jobs at Timmies. There are lots of unemployed skilled workers in Alberta, but of course they belong to the building trades unions.

Companies like CNRL and others that are using Merit Shops to build oilsands projects are taking advantage of this to undercut the unions. Heck even right wing Edmonton Sun Columnist Neil Waugh noted this 'fact' last summer. And he notes it again today in a scathing attack on lack of planning by the new Stelmach regime.

That's because the Merit Shops are not independent contractors at all but spin offs of unionized companies! Merit Shops are about as independent as CLAC is an independent union. Neither of them are and both are spin offs of Alberta's Big Construction Companies trying to bust the Building Trades Unions.

Kushner is the president of the Merit Contractors Association and the person most responsible for getting a review of the Code rolling. Call them merit contractors, or open shops, it all means non-union (or at the very most, an "alternative" labour group such as the Christian Labour Association of Canada).

Alberta's non-union construction industry began 20 years ago, as the oil price slump of the early 1980s shut down jobs and pushed companies into bankruptcy. Driven by the earlier, decades-long boom and labour shortage, construction labour relations had become a perpetual upward spiral of wage increases. Faced with the crunch, companies had to cut costs or go under.

The end result was the famous "spin-off" company, a term industry people are reluctant to use to this day. After locking out their employees for 25 hours, the firm would hire them back in a subsidiary company, or through a labour broker, at lower wages. After the dust settled, the complexion of Alberta�s construction industry had changed forever.

Today, there are few union contractors working in the commercial/institutional sector, while the large industrial projects are built almost exclusively by organized labour. The Merit Contractors Association represents 670 companies in Alberta, employing over 20,000 persons who complete 32 million hours of construction work annually. The Association has been growing at a rate of 36% a year, for the past four years. During those four years, it�s been lobbying ceaselessly, in its own right and through its members, for changes to workplace legislation, making annual presentations at Standing Policy Committee and appearances at Conservative Party functions.


Labour Shortage

History of the WRF

Alberta's Free Market In Labour

The Labour Shortage Myth

AFL Agrees With Me

Lack of Planning Created Skills Shortage in Alberta

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