This blog is the third in our series on Community Benefits Agreements.
- Part 1: Community Benefits Agreements looked at the potential advantages a Community Benefits Agreement framework offers all stakeholders in major infrastructure projects in Alberta.
- Part 2: Community Benefits Agreements & “The Skilled Trades Advantage” examined the advantages that unions bring to a Community Benefits Agreement.
Today’s blog is about the potential hiring practices under an Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework.
What projects could fall under an Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework?
In theory, an Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework could cover future major infrastructure projects that are
- Private and requiring government approval (for instance, projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion when it was a Kinder Morgan project)
- Public Private Partnerships (P3)
The framework could also cover subcontracts for work on these projects. Crucially, all stakeholders would participate in an open process where the ground rules are known and the playing field is level. The terms of the agreement for each project can be specific and measurable, and the Alberta government can monitor and ensure the fulfillment of the terms.
What hiring practices might be affected by an Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework?
Major infrastructure projects provide a great opportunity to train Alberta’s next generation of skilled trades workers. An Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework might include provisions that require contractors to support
- Hiring of apprentices, with quotas for Indigenous people, women, youth, and recent immigrants
- Hiring of a required percentage of Alberta workers
- Hiring of a required percentage of workers from local communities
- Hiring of union labour.
New opportunities: These measures could open up new contract opportunities for contractors that hire union labour and for the members of Alberta’s building trades unions. For instance, trade union members might find new work on commercial construction projects, such as hospitals, roads, schools, etc.
What are the impacts of an Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework for contractors?
An Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework could result in savings for contractors (and the public purse). Contractors will know the targets they have to meet to win a contract. They will know their costs.
- Contractors can decide whether to meet these targets – and any additional benefits they offer – on their own or through agreements with sub-contractors.
- Contractors may be better able to negotiate for tax and other concessions because their proposals align with provincial priorities.
- Contractors may be able to negotiate predictable wages and no-strike clauses.
- Contractors will recognize the potential to save time and money if protracted negotiations are not required. Kinder Morgan, for instance, spent 6 years negotiating agreements with Indigenous communities and local governments.
What are the impacts of an Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework for Alberta’s building trades?
Alberta’s building trade unions are ready, willing, and able to satisfy the hiring practices of an Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework.
- Alberta’s building trade unions help to fund numerous scholarships for students interested in the trades.
- Alberta’s building trade unions already offer top notch apprentice training. They have world-class training facilities for each building trade, and they have paid for these training facilities on their own dime. They have red seal instructors who understand and have experience applying the latest practices required by modern industry.
- Alberta’s building trade unions have a solid track record of supporting apprentice training of Indigenous people, women, and Canadian Forces personnel. And it’s more than just talk. They have invested their own time and money in support of
- Trade Winds to Success – to increase the number of Indigenous people in the building trades in Alberta (the participating trade unions have even developed unique 3-day programs for each trade to help Indigenous people prepare for the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training)
- Building Together – to increase the number of women in the building trades in Alberta
- Helmets to Hardhats – to increase the number of former Canadian Forces personnel in the building trades in Alberta.
- Alberta’s building trade unions have Alberta workers available, and they want to bring in new members.
No other organizations, not even Alberta’s technical institutes, can match the work force, investment, specialized facilities, red seal instructors, commitment to positive social change, and track record of Alberta’s building trades. It’s not even close.
Time for Action
Albertans and Canadians are all too familiar with recent problems plaguing major infrastructure projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. We don’t need to repeat the errors of the past. It’s time for new solutions. An Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework can potentially reduce the time and cost for approvals, align major infrastructure projects with Alberta’s regional, economic, environmental, and social development initiatives, and help train the new generation of skilled trades workers that Alberta needs.
Let us know what you think
- Share this blog LINK on your favourite social media.
- Follow BTA on Facebook and Twitter.
- Contact Building Trades of Alberta to let us know you support a Community Benefits Agreement framework for Alberta.
- Contact your local MLA. Tell your MLA “I support the Alberta government establishing a Community Benefits Agreement framework for the province. ”