In the Media

Dec. 11, 2017 – SAULT STAR- City launches move to bid OLRB designation

City council has taken the first step – albeit a year from now – to move forward with a decertification process to acquire a non-construction employer designation.                     Read More 

Dec. 7, 2017 – KITCHENER POST – Region’s restricted bidding continues to drive up costs: study

Contractors attending a business lunch put on by the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday were asked a no-brainer during a presentation that followed. Read More

May 29, 2017 – SAULT STAR – Council wants report on potential OLRB appeal

City council unanimously supported a motion that asks city staff to complete a report outlining the procedures and costs associated with acquiring a non-construction employer designation that could reduce the costs of municipal capital projects.        Read More

Feb. 2, 2017 – HUFFINGTON POST – Closing this one loophole could end the road toll debate right now

As cities across Ontario finalize their budgets and try to squeeze out savings to expand public transit, something doesn’t add up. Too many cities, including Toronto, are missing out on hundreds of millions in savings. Read More

Nov. 10, 2016 – THE RECORD – Help! We’re trapped in this shed and the toilet stinks

Remember Waterloo Region’s famous blue shed? Or our multi million dollar toilet?It’s been a couple of years since either made the news, but both are still hard at work raising your taxes and making a mockery of common sense. Read More

Oct. 11, 2016 – WINDSOR STAR – Public school board expects savings after Ontario Labour Relations ruling on construction tenders

The Greater Essex County District School Board says it could save significant dollars on future construction projects after an Ontario Labour Relations Board ruling allows the board to use non-unionized workers. Read More

May 01, 2014 – THE RECORD – Shed to toilet: Region’s labour woes go from bad to worse

WATERLOO REGION — Kitchener-Conestoga Tory MPP Michael Harris says he’s reviving his plans to explicitly exempt public sector institutions from the construction industry. This would put an end to the carpenters union toilet manoeuvre at the labour board once and for all. Read More

Apr. 29, 2014 – 570 NEWS – Local MPP calls closed tendering ruling ‘unfair & unjust’

WATERLOO REGION — Kitchener Conestoga Conservative MPP Michael Harris also tells 570 News that the ruling is ‘unfair, unjust and flat-out wrong.’ “I attempted to fix this legal loophole last year when I tabled my bill, ‘the fair and open tendering act’ supported by both unionized and non-unionized construction companies. It was endorsed by the City of Kitchener, the City of Waterloo, our own region.” Read More

Apr. 29, 2014 – CTV NEWS – Region must use certain carpenters, OLRB rules

WATERLOO REGION — Seiling says he wants to see provincial labour laws changed to exempt municipalities from the construction employer terminology.
At Queen’s Park, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris proposed a bill that would overhaul construction tendering rules for municipalities last fall, but it went down to defeat.
Read More

Apr. 29, 2014 – 570 NEWS – MPP says ruling means Carpenters’ Union will have monopoly on local contracts

WATERLOO REGION — A local MPP vows to continue his fight to change Ontario’s labour laws as they pertain to municipalities and other public sector organizations.
Read More

Apr. 29, 2014 – The Record – Carpenters union wins ruling against Waterloo Region

WATERLOO REGION — A toilet handle was fixed in an addiction treatment centre in Cambridge. A garden shed was put up at a library in Baden. A neon sign was installed at a bus terminal in Kitchener.
Those three little 2012 projects led the Region of Waterloo to lose in a remarkable ruling by the Ontario Labour Relations Board two weeks ago.
Read More

Sept. 19, 2013 – The Record – Legislature defeats bill from local MPP

WATERLOO REGION — Lawmakers have defeated a private member’s bill on government tendering proposed by Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris.The legislation, defeated 52 to 30 Thursday, would have forbidden closed tendering, in which government projects are limited to contractors bound to specific union contracts.
Read More

Sept. 19, 2013 – CTV News Kitchener – Local MPP’s construction tendering bill defeated at Queen’s Park

* TV Report * Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris’ bill on construction tendering was defeated at Queen’s Park. Priya Mann has details. Watch More

Sept. 19, 2013 – The Record – D’Amato: Open up public-sector construction projects to all bidders

Today is a big day. This afternoon, the Ontario legislature will debate and vote on second reading of a vitally important private member’s bill, sponsored by Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris. If approved, the Fair and Open Tendering Act would ensure a level playing field when firms compete to build projects like schools and arenas. Read More

Sept. 17, 2013 – Daily Commercial News – Bill 73 — should it stay or should it go?

Bill 73 — The Fair and Open Tendering Act, is about open tendering, Michael Harris tells a crowd of about 15. It’s not anti-union. He points to the support of the Christian Labour Association of Canada. Read More

Sept. 15, 2013 – 570 Talk Radio – Business to Business

* Radio * With KW Chamber of Commerce President Ian McLean, Greg DeROcher, President of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and MPP Michael Harris to discuss Bill 73 – The Fair and Open Tendering Act. Listen to More

Sept. 13, 2013 – The Stratford Beacon Herald – MPP Michael Harris wants to close loophole with Bill 73

Municipalities and school boards are not construction employers.
Michael Harris, the Conservative MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga, stressed that point in Stratford Friday as he continues to drum up support for his Fair and Open Tendering Act. Read More

Sept. 13, 2013 – – MPP says no municipality safe from legislative loophole

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris stopped in Stratford Friday morning to promote his private member’s bill that if passed would eliminate closed tendering for public infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, buildings, and water treatment upgrades. Read More

Sept. 12, 2013 – Daily Commercial News – Kitchener-Waterloo — Bill 73’s ground zero

Late last winter, the Region of Waterloo dispatched two of its employees to erect a shed in Wilmot Township on a Saturday. The employees were members of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1656, which was in its last three months of a collective agreement with the municipality. Read More

Sept. 09, 2013 – The Daily Construction News – How Ontario’s non-construction employer designation laid down groundwork for current debate on Bill 73

Back in 1987, as Sault Ste. Marie’s steel industry — the city’s main employer — began to flounder, the municipal government tried to bolster the local economy by creating a project for people on employment insurance.

Sept. 07, 2013 – SooToday – City Council expected to support the Fair and Open Tendering Act

City Council is expected to approve, at its meeting Monday, a request from City of Sault Ste. Marie staff to formally show its support for Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act. Read More

Sept. 06, 2013 – Sault Star – Sault City Council to discuss Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris bill on open tendering

City council will be asked Monday to support an MPP’s private member’s bill that, if passed, would open up the construction project tender process for the city. Read More

Sept. 05, 2013 – AMO Watchfile – AMO Board Supported Bill 73

The AMO Board supported Bill 73, Fair and Open Tendering Act, a Private Members Bill addressing closed tendering. Read More

Aug. 30, 2013 – Sault Star – Open contract issue needs action with Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act

When the city of Sault Ste. Marie tendered the more-than $40-million east-end sewage disposal plant upgrade in 2004, it stipulated that contractual obligations with Local 1036 of the Labourers’ International Union and Local 446 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners required it use contractors who were in contractual relations with these unions. Read More

Aug. 30, 2013 – The Record – Region taken to the woodshed in latest shed battle

But the latest news is equally bad for taxpayers. Earlier this month, the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled in favour of a bid by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America to represent regional staff. Read More

Aug. 29, 2013 – The Record – Kitchener council supports legislation to amend tendering rules

The Kitchener-Conestoga MPP’s private member’s bill calls for a change to the Labour Relations Act that he says will close a legal loophole that can block open bidding on municipal construction projects once a union has certified municipal employees. Read More

Aug. 27, 2013 – The Daily Construction News – Bill 73 roundtables spark debate in Ontario

Roundtable discussions being held around Ontario are meant to clarify and gain support for Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act, though opponents of the bill say the meetings are fear mongering. Read More

Aug. 22, 2013 – Soo Today – A call for fairness for local contractors

The bill was introduced by Harris in the Ontario Legislature in May, and Harris says, if passed, it would enable municipalities and school boards to entertain tenders from a much greater number of contractors interested in bidding on construction projects. Read More

Aug. 22, 2013 – The Sault Star – MPP touts bill that would end union restriction on city building projects, open tenders to non-union firms

A private members bill could be the solution the city of Sault Ste. Marie has been looking for to get rid of a longstanding restriction that only certain unions can work on municipal building projects, says the city’s top administrator. Read More

Aug. 13, 2013 – St. Catherines Standard – Labour, Tories clash over MPP’s bill

A local construction labour group is taking issue with a Progressive-Conservative MPP’s move to change part of Ontario’s labour laws. Michael Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga, says a bill he’s introduced would protect municipalities from being trapped in labour monopolies and paying more for projects like bridges and roads. Read More

Aug. 13, 2013 – Blackburn News – MPP proposes labour law changes

A Kitchener MPP has a message for Londoners. If you think you’re safe from the rising costs of infrastructure projects, just look down the road.
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris was in London on Monday to speak about a bill he’s tabled, dubbed the Fair and Open Tendering Act, aimed at closing a loophole he says forces municipalities to give contracts to unionized firms. Read More

Aug. 12, 2013 – Hamilton Community News – Councillors split on supporting Tory labour bill

Hamilton politicians deferred a decision to support a Progressive Conservative MPP’s private member’s bill that could open up the tendering process for municipal jobs across the province from the grip of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Read More

July 30, 2013 – The Record – Open tendering law is needed

It’s crazy to think that the cost of Waterloo Region’s light rail train system might soar far above its $818-million budget because one union gets a stranglehold on much of the work. And it’s crazy to think that a prominent local construction company, Melloul Blamey, might be shut out of this project and its benefits because not all of the workers it hires are unionized. It’s crazy, we know. But even worse, it’s true. Read More

July 29, 2013 – The Guelph Mercury – Open tendering rules long overdue

Kitchener-Conestoga Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris has an excellent summer project. He’s travelling the province to drum up support for a piece of legislation he tabled in May, called the Fair and Open Tendering Act. If there’s any justice, Harris’s bill will get unanimous support, or at least enough to get it through the legislature and into law. Read More

July 23, 2013 – Hamilton Spectator – MPP hopes bill will put a lid on labour monopolies

The newly tabled Bill 73 would end labour monopolies like the one the Carpenters’ Union holds over public sector construction contracts in Ontario, says Michael Harris. The Kitchener-Conestoga Progressive Conservative MPP was in Hamilton Monday afternoon to discuss the proposed legislation, dubbed the Fair and Open Tendering Act. Read More

July 17, 2013 – Daily Commercial News – Ontario government, building trades slam open tendering proposal as “race to the bottom”

A recent Ontario Progressive Conservative party labour reform proposal received praise from one construction union but officials from government and the building trades have dismissed it as a “race to the bottom” approach. Read More

July 11, 2013 – Blackburn News – Board faces extra costs

Officials at the Greater Essex County District School Board hope a private members bill opening up tendering to all union and non-union contractors is passed, and quickly. A provincial law restricts the contractors the local public board can use, and Superintendent of Business Penny Allen believes it has cost the board roughly the same as a new elementary school over the past decade. Read More

July 11, 2013 – The Windsor Star – Board seeks open bidding

The local public school board is calling on the province to change its labour laws so the board can seek competitive construction bids from union and non-union contractors. Currently the board, much like other public organizations, is restricted when it tenders projects. Read More

June 27, 2013 – The Record – Region lets local MPP carry the load in shed battle

Besides cracks about shaking babies and kissing hands, one perpetual complaint about politicians is that they only ever tell their audience what they think they want to hear. Here in Waterloo Region, we’re putting a twist on this age-old problem.
Read More

June 24, 2013 – Sun News Network – Some unions more equal than others

* video * Sean Reid, Director of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, reveals how some unions are more equal than others when it comes to municipal contracts. Watch More

June 24, 2013 – Daily Commercial News – MPP seeks to break union-only bidding for municipalities and school boards

Spurred by a move by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners to make Waterloo Region a closed shop, a Progressive Conservative MPP has tabled a private member’s bill to change the Ontario Labour Relations Act. Read More

June 19, 2013 – The Waterloo Chronicle – Provincial labour laws need revision

Probably no local construction project — with the possible exception of rapid transit — has generated the same level of controversy as a shed constructed in Wilmot Township last December. Read More

June 15, 2013 – The Woolwich Observer – Municipalities support Bill 73

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris’ bill to stop “back-door unionization” has won the support of
municipal leaders. Read More

June 6, 2013 – The Record – Tory MPP pitches private member’s bill to regional council

Regional politicians said little Wednesday when Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris asked them to support an amendment he proposes to the Labour Relations Act. Read More

May 30, 2013 – The New Hamburg Independent – Union could cause spike in region’s construction costs, says MPP

A looming union monopoly in Waterloo Region would mean less business for local construction companies and a bigger bill for local taxpayers. Read More

May 28, 2013 – The Record – Carpenters’ union differs

A carpenters’ union fighting the region for certification takes issue with claims it would drive up construction costs on light rail transit by 40 per cent. Sean O’Dwyer, senior business representative for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 785, said it would likely be closer to one per cent. Read More

May 17,2013 – 570 News Radio – Michael speaks about his private member’s bill

* radio * The bill, if passed, would end closed-tendering for municipal and school board infrastructure projects by preventing unions from creating labour monopolies. Listen to More

May 16, 2013 – The Record – Harris turns up heat in labour battle with private bill

Conservative MPP Michael Harris has proposed a provincial law that he says would guarantee open bidding on taxpayer projects. “I believe that all Ontarians, regardless of their affiliation with a particular union, should have the right to work on publicly funded infrastructure projects,” he said. Read More

May 15, 2013 – Daily Commercial News – Associations weigh in on closed tendering

The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) and the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) took to Ottawa to provide their views on closed tendering in the construction industry. Read More

May 2, 2013 – The Record – Back to the shed Part 2: the damage continues

The last time we left Waterloo Region’s famous blue shed, it was about to cost taxpayers $20 million a year — the amount a union monopoly is expected to add to regional construction projects annually. Read More

Apr. 24, 2013 – CTV Kitchener – Labour group criticizes Carpenters Union over bid to unionize Region of Waterloo

The battle between non-unionized carpenters and the Region of Waterloo continues to heat up.
The Christian Labour Association has filed for interveners status in a local case currently before the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Read More

Mar. 21, 2013 – The Record – Why this shed could cost local taxpayers $20 million a year

It looks like a very fine shed. Tucked in behind the Region of Waterloo’s library headquarters in Baden, it’s a spacious, two-door, slate blue model with a row of windows and white trim. It would probably look just as nice in your own backyard. Read More

Feb. 22, 2013 – The Record – Carpenters’ union lashes back at Tories

WATERLOO REGION — The carpenters’ union is fighting back after Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris criticized its bid to add regional government employees to its membership.The criticism is “meant to scare taxpayers into hating unions and pave the way for a future Conservative government under Tory leader Tim Hudak to strip away labour rights in Ontario,” union spokesperson Sean O’Dwyer said. Read More

Feb. 20, 2013 – The Record – Tories join region’s battle against carpenters’ union

WATERLOO REGION — Provincial Conservatives are pledging labour changes to support Waterloo regional council as it battles a carpenters’ union.The union is seeking to add regional government employees to its membership based on two workers who erected a plastic shed at a regional library last December. Read More

Feb. 15, 2013 – 570 News Radio – Groups warn about the impact of construction monopolies

* radio * Sean Reid, Director Federal and Ontario of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada and Ian DeWaard, Regional Director of the Christian Labour Association of Canada, Re: They are calling on the Region to remain open for business and fight a threat to limit who can bid on local work. Listen to More

Feb. 15, 2013 – The Record – Be concerned about union bid, Hamilton politician warns

WATERLOO REGION — Taxpayers should “absolutely” be concerned if the carpenters’ union succeeds in adding Waterloo regional employees to its membership, Hamilton Coun. Lloyd Ferguson warns. It happened in Hamilton in 2005 and it reduced the pool of firms willing to bid on civic projects. Read More

Feb. 14, 2013 – The Record – Region ‘quite concerned’ about union bid

WATERLOO REGION — Two regional government employees went to erect a plastic shed at a Wilmot library on a Saturday last December. What they really built is a labour relations battle that a critic warns could end up sticking taxpayers with millions in extra costs on projects such as rail transit and sewage upgrades. Read More

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