September 20th, 2019

Unions competing to represent Whitla Wind Farm workers

By COLLIN GALLANT on August 21, 2019.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Unions competing to represent workers of Borea Construction at the Whitla Wind Farm construction site will have their cases heard in early September.

The News was the first to report the competition between the Christian Labour Association of Canada and the Ironworkers, local No. 725 to certify the 175-person workforce on the major renewable energy project southwest of Medicine Hat.

In late June, CLAC applied to be the certified bargaining agent for five trades unit on the site: operating engineers, masons, ironworkers, carpenters and general labourers.

However on July 5, the Ironworkers objected to the application, stating they were denied the same access to the job site provided to CLAC’s construction wing, Local 63, by Borea.

At the same time, two other unions, filed similar allegations of unfair practice and company involvement.

A late-July ruling, however dismissed the applications brought by the Carpenters, Local No. 2103 and Labourers Local No. 92, due to a lack of evidence they were actively organizing at the site.

CLAC representatives have dismissed the claims.

The Ironworkers argue that allowing one union on to the site during work hours while barring others constitutes illegal employer involvement and potentially coercion that contravenes Alberta Labour Relations Board regulations.

The ALRB also ruled that voting among four units not in question proceed.

The remaining matter, involving structural iron workers, will be heard by the ALRB on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Competition between CLAC and traditional labour unions and groups has been heated in the past.

CLAC promotes itself as an alternative to confrontational bargaining and partisanship of the traditional labour movement. Other unions accuse the non-affiliated CLAC of being employer friendly to the detriment of workers.

Since the initial applications for Borea workers, CLAC also sought certification of Borea parent company, Pomerleau, in Alberta. The eastern Canadian construction giant expanded to Alberta in 2016 when it acquired Westpro Construction. That division of Pomerleau was certified by CLAC in 2016.

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