Labor-Management Partnership Nets Toronto Local Big Organizing Win
February 5, 2013
Dial One Wolfdale Electric Inc., was one of the Toronto area’s largest nonunion contractors, performing millions of dollars in commercial and industrial work each year.
Local 353 made many efforts to reach out to the company, but were consistently rebuffed by the owner, who was strongly nonunion.
“Dial One was on our radar for years, but it was untouchable,” says First District International Representative Mike LeBlanc, who serves as the organizing coordinator for Eastern Canada.
That is until now. More than 200 Dial One employees took the oath to become Local 353 members last December, the result of one of the local’s biggest top-down organizing victories in recent history.
Dial One is expected to create more than 1 million man hours of work for Local 353.
Key to the IBEW’s success was the strong partnership between the union and one of its top signatory contractors – Ozz Electric Inc. – whose willingness to take a risk led to Dial One joining the IBEW family.
Things began to move last spring, when Dial One’s ownership changed. The new owner proved to be more receptive to the union’s message than the previous one, but the company’s future was questionable.
So Local 353 Business Manager/Financial Secretary Steven Martin approached Ozz Electric about acquiring Dial One outright.
We could have sat by and potentially watch Dial One die on the vine. But we saw this as a great opportunity for both us and Ozz Electric.
What made it attractive to Ozz, says LeBlanc, is Dial One’s huge servicing area, with lots of major projects coming up. For Dial One and its employees, joining Ozz meant becoming part of one of Ontario’s biggest electrical contractors.
The new members were gradually brought up to IBEW scale over a six-month period before being formally sworn in.
I’ve never seen guys that jacked up about joining. There was a lot of excitement about the future.
In 2013, Local 353 looks to sign up more contractors. At the beginning of the year, it launched an advertising campaign to reach out to both contractors and nonunion electricians about the benefits of joining the IBEW.