IBEW support and solidarity helps Local 2034 and Manitoba’s Allied Hydro Council defeat anti-union foes
Updated On: Jun 19, 2016
June, 2016 – Financial support from IBEW Locals across Canada, including Local 258 here in BC, has helped Manitoba’s Allied Hydro Council fight back against anti-union foes Merit Contractors Association of Manitoba and five individual contractors who filed a lawsuit in 2012 challenging Manitoba Hydro’s policy of having employees join a union as a prerequisite to be able to work on major hydroelectric projects. IBEW Local 2034 in Manitoba was also named in the lawsuit along with Local 99 of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, Local 987 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board and the Hydro Projects Management Association.
In May 2015, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba ruled on a challenge from the three unions to the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case, arguing that the appropriate jurisdiction falls under the Labour Board or an Arbitrator. Justice Greenberg ruled in favour of the union’s challenge, stating that “the Manitoba Labour Board is the proper forum for determination of the issues raised in the plaintiffs’ claim.”
The plaintiffs then launched an appeal, and in May 2016, an Appeal Court ruling dismissed the case, upholding the original decision issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench.
The anti-union plaintiffs were seeking declarations from the Court which included:
a) that compulsory union membership/compulsory union dues and the union shop are contrary to the provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
b) that union security clauses in a collective agreement are unconstitutional under the Charter as an infringement of the right of association, or put another way having to join the union and pay dues creates ideological conformity with the union;
c) that the provisions of the Manitoba Labour Relations Act which provide for union security and the union shop are unconstitutional;
d) that the provisions of the Project Labour Agreements (PLAs) – the Burntwood Nelson Agreement or BNA, and the Transmission Line Agreement or TLA – for union security/union dues be struck out of the PLAs;
e) that PLAs generally are illegal.
Brother Sudhir Sandhu, Executive Director of the Allied Hydro Council, expressed gratitude and appreciation to members of Local 258 IBEW in a letter sent to the union on behalf of IBEW brothers and sisters in Manitoba, and wrote, “With this ruling, we hope that this long battle has come to a close. However, time will tell as Merit has till September 2016 to file for a Supreme Court Review.”
Local 258 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers