Labour­ers union digs pre­mier

Ford prom­ises LiUNA he will re­verse a Lib­eral law that ben­e­fited ri­vals

Toronto Star - - CANADA - ROB FER­GU­SON QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU

Pre­mier Doug Ford got a rous­ing re­cep­tion — and a sil­ver shovel — from mem­bers of a ma­jor con­struc­tion union af­ter promis­ing to re­verse a Lib­eral law that opened up some work sites to ri­vals in the car­pen­ters union. Al­most 300 LiUNA mem­bers gath­ered on the front lawn of the leg­is­la­ture Thurs­day for a rally as Ford stepped onto the back of a flatbed trailer and promised to amend the mea­sure that was part of de­feated pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne’s fi­nal bud­get last spring. “Kath­leen Wynne and the Lib­er­als tried to pull a lit­tle back­room deal on each and ev­ery one of you. She tried to take food off your ta­ble, which she did, she tried to take jobs off each and ev­ery one of you,” Ford charged to cheers of “Dougie, Dougie, Dougie.”

“But I’m here to tell you we’re go­ing to re­store that.”

The is­sue cen­tres on a ju­ris­dic­tional dis­agree­ment over which unions are en­ti­tled to do con­crete form work at high-rise con­struc­tion sites.

The Car­pen­ter’s District Coun­cil of On­tario said the Lib­eral change to the Labour Re­la­tions Act fol­lowed an of­fi­cial re­view by a labour ex­pert and was in­tended to pro­vide “greater fairness” for work­ers in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try be­cause LiUNA had long en­joyed an “un­fair ad­van­tage” through an ex­emp­tion.

A web­site for the car­pen­ters’ union de­scribes the or­ga­ni­za­tion as “non­par­ti­san” with a “long and proud his­tory of ad­vo­cat­ing for mean­ing­ful so­cial progress” that in­cludes “more bal­anced labour laws and en­hanced work­place health and safety reg­u­la­tions.”

LiUNA in­ter­na­tional vi­cepres­i­dent Joseph Mancinelli dis­puted the car­pen­ters’ view of the bill on stage with Ford, sev­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters and Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MPPs.

He called the Lib­eral change “a very nasty, nasty pe­ice of leg­is­la­tion made its way se­cretly into the bud­get. It was a piece of leg­is­la­tion de­signed to take away LiUNA’s ju­ris­dic­tion…handed over to an­other union with one stroke of a pen.”

Mancinelli pre­sented Ford with the cer­e­mo­nial shovel and pledged al­le­giance.

“You can count on us to part­ner with you, your min­is­ters and your gov­ern­ment on what­ever it takes to get this prov­ince mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. We can’t ex­pect our gov­ern­ment to do it alone. It’s up to us to help,” he added.

“In fact, we have an $8 bil­lion pen­sion plan that is pre­pared to in­vest in On­tario’s in­fra­struc­ture and con­tinue to in­vest in On­tario.”

Mancinelli also praised Ford for a re­cent an­nounce­ment promis­ing an end to the Drive Clean emis­sions-mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram “that so many of us were p----d off over” and for down­siz­ing Toronto city coun­cil to 25 mem­bers from the 47 seats that were to be con­tested in Mon­day’s elec­tion in the face of crit­i­cism the con­tro­ver­sial move came in the midst of the cam­paign.

“What the pre­mier did in re­duc­ing the num­ber of coun­cil­lors, we ap­plaud the courage that he had to do that.”

Ford, who has promised to scrap many of the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s work­place re­forms such as a move to a $15 min­i­mum wage from the cur­rent level of $14, did not say when the amend­ment to aid LiUNA mem­bers would be made.

In re­marks broad­cast live on tele­vi­sion, Ford also gave his cell­phone num­ber to the crowd.

“Your fam­ily ever needs help, you call me di­rectly. You can text me. If you try to call me the mes­sages, they just fill up in about 10 sec­onds.” Ford then hopped down from the stage and worked his way through the crowd, pos­ing for self­ies with dozens of union mem­bers.

ROB FER­GU­SON TORONTO STAR

Pre­mier Doug Ford holds a shovel pre­sented to him by LiUNA in­ter­na­tional vice-pres­i­dent Joseph Mancinelli right front, Thurs­day in front of the On­tario leg­is­la­ture.

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