Painters stage protest

Use of non-union con­trac­tor irks union mem­bers

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY NIKKI SUL­LI­VAN ni­cole.sul­li­van@cb­

Union­ized painters protested out­side Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity this week be­cause a nonunion con­trac­tor is do­ing work on one of the univer­sity’s build­ings.

The build­ing, the Mac­Don­ald Res­i­dence, is leased by the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for English Aca­demic Prepa­ra­tion. Mul­ti­ple calls to ICEAP were not re­turned by press time.

Steven For­tune Paint­ing, also known as Steve’s Paint­ing and Ren­o­va­tions, which is owned by Steve For­tune ob­tained the paint­ing con­tract.

“Since this build­ing was built, it was built union. It is main­tained union, the teach­ers in here are union and all the con­struc­tion work that goes on is usu­ally given union,” ex­plained Keith Fougere, spokesper­son for In­ter­na­tional Union of Painters and Al­lied Trades lo­cal 1945, while on the in­for­ma­tion picket line this week.

“Union work­ers are trained. They do a good job … Chances are the guys that are in that build­ing don’t even have their WHMIS (Work­place Haz­ardous Ma­te­ri­als In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem).”

The WHMIS train­ing fol­lows fed­eral and pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions and teaches peo­ple things like how to rec­og­nize ma­te­ri­als that may re­act dan­ger­ously, how to spot toxic ma­te­ri­als and sub­stances like mould and how to deal with flammable ma­te­ri­als. “It’s very im­por­tant to have this train­ing be­cause you don’t know what you are han­dling. You could be around mould and you don’t know what it is. It might not af­fect you to­day but it could af­fect you 10 years down the road, same as as­bestos,” Fougere ex­plained.

Fougere said he asked For­tune to join the union if his com­pany was go­ing to con­tinue to bid on com­mer­cial con­tracts but For­tune re­fused.

“My guys stand­ing here protest­ing are all out of work. They want to feed their fam­i­lies and make a good wage ... Not what some of these guys are get­ting paid. That’s crim­i­nal. It should be il­le­gal, ac­tu­ally,” Fougere said.

Keep­ing em­ploy­ees work­ing is one of the rea­sons For­tune keeps bid­ding on com­mer­cial con­tracts.

“I have staff that I sup­port, through their pay and through the work. Where the work is, is where I want to be,” he said.

“If the union wants us off the site… there’s no work for my em­ploy­ees so we’re kind of in the same boat.”

For­tune em­ploys on av­er­age eight peo­ple at a time and has four peo­ple work­ing on the ICEAP job.

“I pay a fair wage to my em­ploy­ees and the longer they are with me, the more they make … ev­ery­one is mak­ing more than min­i­mum wage,” he said.

For­tune de­clined com­ment when asked if his em­ploy­ees re­ceived ben­e­fits or rec­og­nized train­ing like WHMIS.

He did say they con­duct “tool­box meet­ings” ev­ery morn­ing to review safety is­sues, em­ployee con­cerns and is­sues they may have had the pre­vi­ous day.

Becky Chisholm, spokesper­son for CBU, con­firmed that ICEAP hired out­side con­trac­tors be­cause CBU’s fa­cil­i­ties work­force couldn’t do the work re­quested within the al­lot­ted time frame.


From left, Gary Boudreau waves at a car honk­ing in sup­port of the union­ized painters protest­ing out­side Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity this week. Be­side him are Kevin Pen­ney, Ger­ald Phillippo and Ger­ald Boudreau. The painters, mem­bers of In­ter­na­tional Union of Painters and Al­lied Trades lo­cal 1945, staged an in­for­ma­tion picket to protest the use of a non-union con­trac­tor.

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