Labourers union digs premier
Ford promises LiUNA he will reverse a Liberal law that benefited rivals
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.