As reported in The Star, Toronto will remain a “construction employer,” meaning the city will continue to only hire contractors on certain infrastructure projects who work with certain unions, council decided Wednesday.
City staff had calculated that the city could save between $12 and $48 million a year by opening up the bidding process to more competition.
Offered the opportunity by the province to end the restrictive practice, city councillors voted instead to maintain it. They also voted to add another union to the list of those they exclusively do business with — the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) — which critics said will make it even more difficult for other unions and contractors to compete.
“The mayor and a majority of council have decided to expand the cartel controlling public infrastructure construction in Toronto and we think that’s wrong,” said Sean Reid, vice-president and regional director of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA).
PCA, which represents 20,000 skilled construction workers, had been lobbying for a more inclusive policy that would increase the number of contractors bidding.
“It’s really quite shocking that the city of Toronto finds itself in a situation where it has significant budget challenges and it has an opportunity to solve those budget challenges to a large extent … and they’ve chosen not to do that,” Reid said.
Ian DeWaard, Ontario director of the Christian Labour Association of Canada, (CLAC), which describes itself as the country’s fastest-growing union, said he believes the deal will drive the cost of construction even higher, while fewer workers outside of the selected unions will be eligible to work on city projects.
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