IUOE Local 793 responds to comments from Runciman



    OAKVILLE, ON, June 9 /CNW/ - Mike Gallagher, business manager of Local
793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, today blasted
Opposition Leader Bob Runciman for suggesting that provincial funds for
training centres in Oakville and Morrisburg were approved for political
reasons.
    "It is ludicrous for Mr. Runciman to suggest such a thing and it shows he
has not done his homework," Gallagher said. "He is twisting the truth and
there is no evidence whatsoever to support his claim. It is outrageous that he
would float such an idea without first checking the facts."
    Gallagher said the money was approved under the Skills Training
Infrastructure Program as a result of an open and transparent process
administered by the public service. He also noted that the campuses of the
Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO) are a separate
entity from the union and managed by a joint labour-management board of
trustees.
    "Provincial governments of all political stripes - including the
Conservatives - have supported these training facilities in the past,"
Gallagher said. "In fact, Mr. Runciman himself has given provincial funds to
the OETIO campuses. In 2001, for example, when he was PC Minister of Economic
Development and Trade, he presented the OETIO with a cheque for $2.3 million
under the Strategic Skills Investment Grant."
    "It is surprising then, that Mr. Runciman is now choosing to criticize
the funding process when he and the Conservatives did the same thing. This is
nothing but a cheap political stunt aimed at drawing attention from a very
positive announcement by the Liberals to set aside money to help retrain
laid-off workers. It is truly disgusting that Mr. Runciman would stoop so low
in an attempt to undermine the hard work of OETIO staff who have built the
facilities into world-class training centres."
    Gallagher said the OETIO is recognized as an official training delivery
agency for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and has been
for more than 30 years. Local 793 members contribute millions of dollars a
year to operate the facilities and support training programs.
    "It is an insult, then, for Mr. Runciman to suggest that politics is the
reason that the current government has invested in these training facilities.
Through the efforts and contributions of government, management and labour,
our construction sites are now safer and it is rare to hear of a crane
accident. Sadly, this has not been the case in some places in the U.S., like
in New York City, Miami and Seattle where accidents have resulted in
construction workers and members of the public being killed."
    Gallagher said the OETIO's 80,000-square-foot training facility located
on 160 acres along the St. Lawrence Seaway in Morrisburg and the facility
located on six acres in Oakville, with its classroom space and
state-of-the-art simulators, ensure that apprentices are trained on the latest
types of equipment.
    "The training is open to members of the public and is subsidized by
approximately $4 million per year from contributions by members of Local 793.
In addition, the union has invested close to $40 million over the years in the
facilities and equipment at no cost to the public. So, the training money
provided by the province provides a tremendous return when you think of the
number of apprentices that are trained and provide a valuable service to
employers in the construction industry."
    Gallagher said hundreds of apprentices are schooled at the facilities
each year and with demand for skilled labour rising the OETIO has had to hire
more instructors, acquire more training aids and rent or lease heavy
equipment.
    "The money provided by the government has enabled the OETIO to invest in
new cranes and heavy equipment and keep pace with changing technology,
allowing us to train more workers for the future. Under the Skills Training
Infrastructure Program, the Training Trust Fund also invests in this
equipment."
    "Ontario needs more skilled workers to keep construction employers strong
and the economy moving forward. These training facilities enable us to provide
employers with that skilled labour. The provincial government has rightly
recognized the important contributions that unionized labour and employers
make in ensuring that Ontario has a safe and highly skilled construction
workforce. Continued investment in training centres like the OETIO will help
ensure that the province keeps its competitive edge. With workers being laid
off in the manufacturing sector in Ontario, funding such as this becomes even
more important if we are to retrain displaced workers."

    Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers represents
thousands of highly skilled crane and heavy equipment operators across
Ontario. The union has a head office and banquet hall in Oakville. The OETIO
has a training campus in Oakville and another training campus in Morrisburg.





For further information:

For further information: Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher,
(905) 469-9299, ext. 202

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International Union of Operating Engineers - Local 793

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