It should be the natural right of construction workers and companies to decide, among themselves, whether to unionize, MHCA President Chris Lorenc says, noting forced unionization of workers or wage levels only hurts the real value of infrastructure budgets.
This is the message Lorenc is taking to the Legislative Affairs Committee, which is hearing public presentations on Bill 13, the Public Sector Construction Projects (Tendering) Act, tonight. The presentation is being made virtually, in keeping with pandemic protocol this year.
“Bill 13 does not eliminate project-labour agreements, but rather, allows the successful bidder to determine the labour/management model it will employ to do the job,” Lorenc says in his address to the legislative committee.
“The MHCA has long opposed any notion of force unionization and has consistently supported open, unfettered competitive bidding of all publicly funded infrastructure projects. The choice to organize or not is for the worker, not government to make.”
Bill 13 applies to all provincial public sector entities, not just provincial departments. They include government agencies, health authorities, post-secondary institutions and public school divisions.
The bill would prohibit any public sector entity from advertising a construction project tender that requires bidders to employ either unionized or non-unionized workers, or to make payments to a union.
The bill has been tabled in the legislature three times now, but each time did not get through the approval stage before the session prorogued.
“Respectfully, the Manitoba government is doing the right thing with Bill 13,” Lorenc concludes.
“We suggest most Manitobans agree that government should abandon any policy of required unionization, or forcing workers to pay union dues to be allowed to work, in favour of one that protects choice.”