Premier ignores labour board ruling against Waterloo Region

QUEEN’S PARK — After voting against the Fair and Open Tendering Act last year, Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government refuse to take action to prevent thousands of unionized and non-unionized tradespeople in Waterloo Region from losing their right to bid and work on taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“Maintaining open tendering in Waterloo Region is an issue of fairness,” Harris said. “So it is simply wrong to tell hardworking men and women in our local construction industry that they will no longer be allowed to work on publicly funded infrastructure just because they don’t hold the right union card or have chosen not to hold one at all.”

Harris made his comments after asking the Premier point blank in question period why she voted against fairness last year when her Liberal government and the NDP joined forces to defeat Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act. The Premier refused to even listen to Harris’s question and deferred to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn who dodged the issue altogether.

“Minister Flynn claims that the Region of Waterloo can apply to become a non-construction employer,” Harris said. “But the Region already tried that and lost because it fixed a toilet handle at an addiction centre and hired an electrician to install a sign at a bus terminal.”

The labour board is still considering a certification application filed by two regional employees who chose to leave the Canadian Union of Public Employees to join the Carpenters’ Union after building a prefabricated shed in Wilmot Township on a Saturday in December 2012. If the labour board approves the application, the Region of Waterloo will be locked into an agreement it did not negotiate.

“Open tendering is also an issue of fairness for municipalities,” Harris said. “Municipalities should be able to collectively bargain directly with their employees. They should not be forced to become a part of an agreement for construction companies.”

To watch Harris’s question to the Premier, click on the following link: http://youtu.be/rVuLmt_bMtY.

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