Coast to Coast

December 2003

This is our third issue of Coast to Coast, but it is our last for 2003. I hope we are meeting our objective of keeping Business Managers and Officers informed of what the First District, our Local Unions and members are doing across Canada on a monthly basis. The International Representatives are our contributors, so get in touch with your servicing Representative if you have something to share.

In the first three months in my role as International Vice President, I have had the opportunity to travel to various places in the country to meet with a few of the Councils, Business Managers and Local Union Officers. I already have plans to attend scheduled Council meetings in the New Year and to continue to dialogue more about the needs of our membership in the 1st District and our issues as an organization with a need to grow. Implementation of our ideas is certainly more difficult than talking about them, but we do have the people resources to carry through.

Organizing will continue to be our "#1 Priority" into the New Year and beyond. Thanks to all of you who have taken the initiative. I recognize the efforts and accomplishments. I also want to express my thanks to the First District Representatives for their support and assistance.

As we prepare for the Holiday Season, I want to thank you for the support and words of encouragement I have received over the past three months. I know there are many, many of you who truly care about the IBEW and only want what is best for our organization. I too have those sentiments and I will try hard to meet your expectations.

Everyone have a peaceful, happy and family Holiday Season.

In solidarity,
Phil Flemming
International Vice President


In November, an additional 24,000 jobs were added to the Canadian workforce in the manufacturing industry. The 24,000 jobs account for 44% of the total job increase for that month. These increasing numbers, mostly in Quebec and Ontario, are good news and should present good organizing opportunities for IBEW Local Unions.

Municipalities in Canada have issued a total of $26.4 billion worth of housing building permits for the first 10 months of 2003. That figure represents more than 60% of the construction dollar in Canada. There are a couple of areas that have done an exceptional job of organizing the residential sector. However, even including those success stories, the IBEW in Canada only represents about 1.5% of the electrical construction market in the residential sector. We need to step outside the box to successfully organize this almost totally untapped resource.

COMET Training and Organizing Dates for your Calendar

Comet Train the Trainer

On Friday, December 19th we faxed and mailed notices to all local unions with (i) and (o) jurisdiction that there will be six COMET Train the Trainer Courses facilitated across Canada between February and May. The location and dates of the courses are: Victoria, BC, February 10, 11, 12, 13; Toronto, ON, February 16, 17, 18, 19; Halifax, NS, March 1, 2, 3, 4; Edmonton, AB, March 30, 31, April 1, 2; Davidson, SK, April 19, 20, 21, 22; Winnipeg, MB, May 17, 18, 19, 20. As we said in the notice, the participants are not restricted to any one location. There has been a lot of interest expressed in these courses; consequently we are expecting good registration.

Although the courses are geared towards the construction industry, we welcome participation from other branches of the IBEW.

Organizing Conferences

We are in the process of arranging two Organizing Conferences for 2004. The Conferences will take the place of our annual Winter School and are scheduled for April 19, 20, 21 and 22 in Ottawa and June 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Kelowna. The Conferences will be training-based with emphasis on the "how to" for both industrial and construction. Please mark your calendars and more information will be provided in the New Year.

Local 37 Organizes Rogers Cable Group

On December 10, 2003, IBEW Local 37, Fredericton, New Brunswick, won the certification vote to represent 34 employees of Rogers Cable Inc. in the Province of New Brunswick.

This group of employees is the inside staff performing the production and technical programming support work at various locations throughout the province in both French and English for community television.

This successful campaign was accomplished by a strong internal voluntary organizing committee, as well as L.U. 37 Assistant Business Manager, Larry Calhoun, L.U. 37 Business Agent Claude Richard, Regional Organizer Gordon Keeling and International Representative Brian Matheson.

Since there are Rogers Cable Groups all across this large country, and we now know they can be organized, it makes for a great target for other Locals to put on their organizing list.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPED Act)

This is a federal act that covers the collection, use or disclosure of personal information in the course of any commercial activities in federally regulated private sector organizations. This federal legislation was approved on April 13, 2000 and came into effect in stages.

On January 1, 2004, this law will extend to every organization conducting commercial activities in Canada. All unions (public and private) will become subject to the legislation and will have legal obligations to protect the privacy of individuals about whom they have information.

Quebec has had private sector privacy legislation in place for over a decade. British Columbia introduced Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) legislation on April 30, 2003. Alberta’s "PIPA" was introduced in Alberta Legislature on May 15, 2003. Other provinces will be subject either to the PIPED Act or a substantially similar provincial one. The federal act stipulates that the Governor in Council will make the determination that the legislation of a province is substantially similar.

Any information collected by a union must be ‘collected’ based on reasonableness and circumstances. Personal information is information, recorded or not, about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes opinions of witnesses in a grievance procedure and access to employee’s names in an organizing drive. The union’s constitution, bylaws, policies, disciplinary hearings and decision-making results are also subject to the Act. Unions will have to have policies regarding their information collection, including purpose for the information and record keeping practices.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has produced a guide so that organizations, including unions, can understand what they must do to comply with PIPEDA. The guide, called "Your Privacy Responsibilities: Guide for Businesses and Organizations to Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act", is available online at:
. You will find more on the Act (Privacy Act) online at

For your information, the First District is in the process of developing a course that can be delivered to Local Union Officers so that our Local Unions will be aware of the implications and responsibilities of the Act.

Minimum Wage

Statistics Canada has set the poverty line for a single person living in a city at $18,371 per year. The minimum hourly wage, established by the Provinces and Territories, from top dollar to the bottom dollar are: Nunavut - $8.50, NWT - $8.25, British Columbia - $8.00, Quebec - $7.30, Yukon - $7.20, Ontario - $7.15, Manitoba - $7.00, Saskatchewan - $6.65, Prince Edward Island - $6.50, New Brunswick - $6.00, Newfoundland and Labrador – $6.00, and Alberta - $5.90. Do the math. It doesn’t seem like governments are really that concerned about people and dignity. I guess we need unions after all.

Application for Membership Form 107 and Beneficiary Designation Form 124

Form 107 has been revised to exclude questions of race, gender, political status and voting status. Form 124 has been revised so that it applies to common-law and same sex spouses. These forms have been updated to comply with Canadian laws and are available on the IBEW website.

Membership Based Unions versus Administrative Type Unions

Local 636 held their annual unit chairperson seminar in November, which was attended by 90 unit leaders from across Ontario. In addition to the comments made by IVP Flemming and IR Routliff, Rocky Clarke, the IBEW’s Director of the Professional and Industrial Membership Development Department, provided a thought provoking discussion. His presentation centered on his observations that the unions of today are administrative type unions and that we need to move towards a membership based union. Highlights from his presentation include:

"Administrative Unionism", defined

Administrative union - An organizational structure which exists to serve the needs of its members through protection of existing membership status and benefits. An administrative union exists to solve members’ problems for them.

"Membership-based Unionism" defined

A membership-based union, as defined by our forebears, allocates necessary resources, both human and financial to insure the success of the union as an entity, thereby increasing bargaining strength and ultimately the financial and social success of our membership. The membership-based union exists to solve membership problems with them.

Other topics include:

What Has Been The Effect Of "Administrative Unionism"?

Results of The Membership Based Union

Making the Case for Change

How Do We Accomplish This?


If Unions are to remain a viable entity for workplace change, we must get back to basics.

Change only comes through a commitment for change.

The role of Union leaders is to be the agents of change. – "Labour Agitator"

As each Local Union is different, it is up to the leadership to determine what works.

For detailed highlights on Rocky’s presentation, go to the First District web site.

Goodbye non-union Workers and Hello Union Workers

Brandon, Manitoba Hospital Redevelopment Project

In 2001, PCL Constructors Canada awarded a $6 million electrical contract on the Brandon hospital redevelopment project to J.S. Murray Electric, a non-union contractor from St. John’s, Newfoundland. Murray Electric’s bid was $700,000.00 lower than the lowest bid from a Manitoba contractor.

Murray proceeded to crew up by importing 20 people from Newfoundland, ignoring the ready-made crew from Brandon, until it had a crew of non-union workers it could control. Local Union 2085’s salting efforts were continually thwarted by Murray’s ability to recruit tradesmen from Newfoundland and starter apprentices from Manitoba. The job peaked at 40 tradesmen with only 2 salts being able to get hired.

By November of this year the project was in difficulty; Murray Electric was on a cash only basis with the electrical wholesalers and was so far behind schedule that PCL stopped progress payments to Murray. When Murray could no longer guarantee payroll, PCL removed them as the electrical contractor and gave the job (now cost plus) to Nor-Tec Electric, a union contractor from Winnipeg.

Murray Electric took 20 employees from Newfoundland back home and Nor-Tec Electric, with assistance from Local 2085, hired 16 of their Manitoba employees, transferred 2 of their own employees and hired 15 Local 2085 members from Brandon. The job is scheduled to work 6 X 10’s until completion at the end of January and may be hiring additional manpower after Nor-Tec has an opportunity to assess the project.

In addition, PCL Constructors awarded the renovation project on the old hospital to Nor-Tec Electric as a bonus for coming in to clean up Murray’s mess. The renovation project should employ 15 – 20 Local 2085 members for about eight months.

Local Union 2085 now has 16 new members, a non-union job turned union and additional work for the Brandon resident members until the fall of 2004.

Follow Up

In the November issue of Coast to Coast we mentioned that a Mercer Human Resource Consulting Representative is suggesting to employers, according to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), and in addition to the items we mentioned in HEADS UP, that "Pensioners don’t create surplus, they consume it", and "to terminate existing plans (through a containment strategy of winding up the plan)".

The CLC, in a letter to Dean Connor, CEO of Mercer Consulting takes the Company to task and President of the CLC Ken Georgetti ends his scolding of Connor by saying "Given your firm’s relationship with trade unions and with pension and benefit plans in which trade unions participate, I call on you to clarify publicly Mercer Consulting views on these issues and to disassociate yourself from these views. Your clients in the trade union movement deserve to know whether they can place their confidence in Mercer Consulting or not".

Retired Reps

It is gratifying to hear from some retired International Representatives that they really enjoy

receiving the Coast to Coast letter and keeping up with the latest developments in the First District.

Also, congratulations are in order to Doreen King of Kitchener, Ontario, wife of deceased International Representative Jack King. Doreen recently received the "Province of Ontario Senior of the Year Award".

The award is made on a yearly basis to persons nominated who are at least 65 years young and active in their community. Doreen is one of those "seniors" who you have to make an appointment with to have a cup of coffee.

It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of a friend, Brother Herb Fulton. Herb served the IBEW well since he became a member in 1952. He was a past Business Manager of Local Unions 339 and 402, Thunder Bay, and a member of the International Executive Council from 1974 to 1983.

Herb was hired as an International Representative in 1984 and serviced local unions in the province of Saskatchewan and Manitoba until he retired to his home in Thunder Bay in 1994. Herb was a pleasure to be around and was well respected and liked by everyone.

Our condolences to our friend, Herb’s wife Joy, to their four children Jim, Beth, Danny and Christine, their spouses, and to their grandchildren.

Local 115 gets First Agreement at Industrial Plant

Local 115, Kingston, Ontario, with the assistance of International Representatives at the negotiating table, reached a tentative first agreement with SCM Supply Chain Management Ltd. in Cornwall on December 17, 2003. The agreement will be presented to the membership and a vote will take place on December 23, 2003. SCM Supply Chain Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tibbett Briton Inc. SCM provides warehousing and distribution for Wal-Mart stores all across Canada. SCM currently has distribution centres in Calgary, Mississauga and Cornwall, Ontario. Negotiations began in January of 2003, and as you can imagine, with the company’s ties to Wal-Mart, at times the discussions were difficult.

Organizer Dean Sinnott was approached by a group of SCM maintenance employees in August of 2002. Following a brief campaign, an application for certification was filed on behalf of twenty-five maintenance employees. Next, a representation vote was conducted by the Ontario Labour Board, resulting in employees voting in favour of the IBEW by a 75% margin. A bargaining certificate was issued on November 7, 2002.

Each distribution centre has an in-house maintenance department of approximately twenty plus employees, including electricians, millwrights, battery handlers and utility personnel. Total employee numbers per facility are in excess of 800, with part and full time. At this time, all employees, other than the twenty-five maintenance employees at the Cornwall facility are unrepresented. Other unions have attempted to organize the warehouse employees in Mississauga and Cornwall, but to date have not been successful.

Construction Organizing CD-Rom/DVD

This great project, the production of an Organizing CD-Rom/DVD, which was introduced to all the Construction Locals at the Progress Construction Caucus, and then by letter in October 2003, has not gotten off the ground yet. The reason for that is too many Locals have not committed to participate. This is to remind you that organizing is the number one priority of the IBEW, and organizing is the responsibility of the Business Manager. This CD-Rom/DVD, which will also include information for organizing in the outside sector, will be a great asset to your organizing program and the sooner we have all Locals committed to participating, the sooner we can get started with production. Thank you to the Locals that have committed to date, and for those that have not, please make this a priority by committing your Local to buy in.

4th District Cook Book Project

Recently, all Locals were sent information on the production of a cookbook that the 4th District has undertaken as a fund-raiser in preparation for the next International Convention, which will be in their District. Recently, the 4th District sent correspondence following up on this project, and they indicate that, to date, response has been slow. This is a reminder, that, in order for your Local and members to participate, and for this project to succeed, it will take some promotion on your part.

In conclusion, on behalf of the First District, may the year 2004 be healthy and prosperous for your Local and for your members.