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February 24, 2016
In the last nine months, I have worked hard to learn what it is that the Building Trades of Alberta does, how the organization fits in on the provincial and national scene, and what the benefits to members are of belonging to the BTA. In that time, I have heard lots of explanations and theories about what the BTA does and doesn’t do; what we are responsible for and what we aren’t. Here, I will lay out what I have learned so far, and, if after reading this, you think I missed something, please let me know. Alternatively, if you learn something from reading this, please share it with your friends and colleagues and talk about it with us on Facebook.
Our mandate says we “coordinate and promote the interests of 16 Alberta trade unions whose 75,000 members work in the residential, commercial and industrial construction, maintenance and fabrication industries”, but what does that mean to the average member? It means that we take direction from our Executive Board, which is made up of the Business Managers of each Local. This “E-Board” works together to determine what policies the BTA should talk to industry stakeholders about, on behalf of the membership. Policies like “The Building Trades of Alberta believes that labour mobility programs for skilled trades workers should support hiring Albertan workers first, and then workers from throughout Canada, before other labour sources are considered” and “The Building Trades of Alberta believes that our unions are equipped to be effective accredited apprenticeship administrators and approved, funded apprenticeship trainers for their specific trade”. (To have a look at our complete policy book, click here).
Fundamentally, the BTA works with government, owners and contractors to create an environment in which it is easier for our Locals to find jobs, and to secure the best possible working conditions and quality of life for skilled trades workers and their families. We also work hard to ensure that your worksites are as safe as they can be, including developing programs like Stand Up for Safety. We do all of that work to support the Locals, who provide the work to you as best as possible. We support the Locals in all of their efforts, but we do not make any decisions for the Locals or on behalf of the members with regard to collective agreements, alcohol and drug testing or any other decisions which directly impact the work life of a member.
Just as the union supports and protects its members within the trade(s) gathered under the union banner, the Building Trades of Alberta supports and promotes the interests of the 16 affiliated trade unions, because in unity there is strength. By presenting the building trades as a unified partner in the progress of Alberta, stakeholders are more apt to listen to what we have to say and to consult with us when they have questions, which we always do with the intent of creating an environment which will provide work for our members.
How does this match with your understanding of the Building Trades of Alberta? Do you have questions? Please ask. Let’s discuss this. Since all 75,000 of us ARE the BTA, it is important that we ALL understand the role of the BTA and our role as members – which is to talk about the BTA and to share what we know with others. By doing that, we create a stronger brand that we can all get behind and that industry knows they can rely on to stand together and to get work done right.
Next week, we will talk about the work that the BTA does to promote the trades as a career and how we encourage people to explore the trades, learn the benefits of belonging and ultimately, become your brother or sister.