Terry Parker, Executive Director of the Building Trades of Alberta, shared these comments at the conclusion of the conference:

When we came up with the theme for this year’s conference, “Evolve, Adapt, Transform”, we knew immediately that it was the right theme. The Unionized Building Trades are at a crossroads. The environment is changing, and for us to survive, we will have to evolve. We have to Adapt. And we will transform how work is done in this province.

Our many partners who joined us today and who shared their observations, reflections and thoughts share this view.   

What does all this mean for you? It means you have work to do. The biggest disservice you can do for yourself, your members, your local and the labour movement is to leave Jasper at the end of this conference and file away what you have heard, return to business as usual and then come back next year, working just as you have all along.

I have three things to ask of you:

  1. Get engaged. In your local, in your community, politically, take a leadership role. Be an example for your brothers and sisters of what engagement looks like.
  2. Work to engage members, get them involved. Have them start to do exactly what I just asked you to do.
  3. Share good news stories. Share them with your members. Share them with us. Share them publicly. We, as an industry, need to do a better job promoting ourselves, showing the community that we are positive contributors.

I’m not asking you to undertake this work without promising to do work for you. Here is what I commit to you:

  1. I promise to keep pushing to grow and enhance relationships with government and with industry partners. 
  2. I promise that we will work to enhance communications with members and with your locals. 
    1. I pledge that we will share more information and share better information to encourage your members to get engaged.
    2. I also promise to listen. If you or any other member of the BTA has something to share with me, I will be there. My business card is in all of the delegate packages. I encourage you to make use of it. I encourage you to share it with your members and have them reach out to me too.
  3. Finally, I promise to do absolutely everything I can to grow the unionized building trades market share in Alberta. If you have ideas on what more can be done – share with me. This is a member-driven organization. My role is to put into action what the membership wants. Help me do that.

Thank you so much for your time, your attention and your commitment to work with me as we move forward, continuing to evolve, adapt and transform.

Conference Highlights

As usual, the conference lasted for three days, with Monday being the meeting of the Executive Board of the Building Trades of Alberta and Tuesday being the Convention for Delegates and Apprentices. Wednesday, September 20 was the day when all attendees were present and a lot of information was shared. we will share as much of it as possible here, but if you want to know more, please contact us at info@bta.ca.

After the morning address from our Chairman, Doug Worobetz, Business Manager of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 8, Dave Estabrooks delivered a Safety Moment, where he discussed mental illness and his own journey and recovery from brain injury.

Terry Parker then provided the Welcome and Overview of the event, to set the tone for the day. After that, Bob Blakely from the CBTU provided an overview from a national perspective, Neil Tidsbury from CLR-A reflected on the past four decades and talked about what they tell us about the. Our last speaker before the morning break was Brett McKenzie, the Executive Director of GPMC-NMC, who shared his thoughts on the transformation of the maintenance industry.

Once we all returned from coffee and networking, we were treated to a great, engaging presentation from Dan Comiskey, a former CFL Offensive Lineman who talked about how everything matters and related his experience growing up a troubled kid and finding football, then dealing with the troubles of his own kids helped to provide him with much-needed perspective. By all accounts, his presentation struck a chord with us all.

The Build Together team then presented on the work they had been doing, shared a couple of videos and lead the room in an exercise to discuss respect in the workplace. They then took the responses that we had all provided and will be compiling the results. If you would like to add your comments, find the questions here and send your response to the Build Together team here.

As a great segue to lunch, the 3rd Annual John Tackaberry Future Leaders award was presented to Mackenzie Bennett. Have a look at his award-winning essay here.

Following lunch, we were treated to remarks from the Minister of Labour, Honourable Christina Gray, who also stayed after her speech and into the afternoon break to connect with attendees and answer questions.

Following the theme of government changes and progress, Micah Field from Blakely & Dushenski discussed the Changes to Labour Code and how the trades can best make use of them, and then Paul McLoughlin talked about the current political landscape and what it would take for the NDP government to see a second term. (Spoiler alert: we will need to mobilize in the next two years if we want to see another four years of labour-friendly government).

j'Amey Bevan, the Director of Apprenticeship and Education for the Boilermakers Local 146 delivered her presentation on the BTA Mentorship Project - Embracing Technology to Promote Engagement and Craft Development, which included a walk-through of the online mentorship beta for welders.

After that, we had our afternoon networking break.

The afternoon was an opportunity for owners to speak. First up was Dean Luciuk from TransAlta, speaking about the upcoming Brazeau Pumped Storage Project, which could see as many as 600 skilled trades workers employed during construction. Following Dean was perennial favourite Ian MacGregor, the Chairman and CEO of NW Refining Inc., to talk about Phase One nearing operationalization, what the news is on Phases Two and Three (waiting for the go-ahead from the government who wants to see proof that Phase One is successful first), and reminding us that while he is a great supporter of the unionized trades, we need to be sure that we come to the table like we want the work.

The day ended with Terry providing an update on the Rebuild McMurray Hope Fund. We have reviewed a couple of proposed projects so far, in conjunction with the City leaders, but to date, none meet the criteria set up by the fund for a project that we would get behind.

Terry provided closing remarks and then everyone got a chance to freshen up before the dinner, at which Wendy Dugas, the President and CEO of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation presented about the work that they have been able to do thanks to the support of the BTA Charitable Foundation, which is really a testament to all the men and women of the BTA who contribute to Foundation and help make Alberta a better place.