BC company Conifex Power Limited hired US company O&S Contracting of Oregon
VANCOUVER, April 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Two unions are launching Federal Court of Canada action today to overturn a U.S. company's use of American construction workers in Mackenzie, B.C. after sending home a Canadian worker hired for the job.
The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 and the Ironworkers Local 97 this morning filed an application in the Vancouver Federal Court office asking that any Temporary Foreign Worker permits and Labour Market Opinions issued to O&S Contracting Inc. of Springfield, Oregon, be revoked immediately.
IUOE Local 115 Business Manager Brian Cochrane said he hopes that federal cabinet ministers Jason Kenney [Employment and Social Development Canada] and Chris Alexander [Citizenship and Immigration] will intervene to solve the problem before the court has to set up a hearing.
"Yet another Temporary Foreign Worker problem is the last thing British Columbia and Canada need with the number of major construction projects on the horizon here, from liquefied natural gas to mines to possible pipelines," Cochrane said. "The government has to take action to ensure Canadians get the first crack at jobs in our country."
O&S Contracting has been retained by Conifex Power Limited, a company building a cogeneration plant near Mackenzie, to undertake construction of a hog storage building to store wood waste for the operation, says Cochrane, and the U.S. company had requested a Red Seal licensed crane operator from the union before cancelling the job.
"O&S Contracting entered into a letter of understanding with IUOE Local 115 to dispatch a crane operator to work on the Conifex project and made arrangements for that operator, Vernon Doak, to commence work, including supplying accommodation," Cochrane says.
"But shortly before Doak was to start work he was told that O&S was not ready to proceed because of weather and delays – and he heard nothing further after that," Cochrane said. "But as of about April 2, we learned that O&S had hired a crew of between eight and 10 workers, including crane operators, steel erectors, welders and millwrights from the United States who had commenced work on the Conifex project."
Cochrane said the union objected to Conifex Power Limited Vice-President Pat Bell, a former BC cabinet minister who retired before the 2013 election, but has had no success resolving the issue.
Cochrane, whose union took HD Mining to Federal Court last year over the use of Temporary Foreign Workers – leading to the federal government making some significant changes to the program – said he hopes that cabinet intervention can avoid another judicial hearing but that the unions are intent on stopping O&S Contracting.
"You simply can't decide to use American workers on a job in Canada where we have every possible worker needed for the project and especially after you even hired a Canadian worker, then brushed him off," Cochrane says.
"The Temporary Foreign Worker program is being abused once again and it seems whether it's McDonald's in Victoria or construction in Mackenzie, this system is out of control and is a disservice to Canadian workers," he said.
Cochrane said lawyer Charles Gordon of Koskie Glavin Gordon, who took forward the HD Mining case for the union previously, is handing this application for the two unions.
SOURCE: International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115
For further information: Brian Cochrane, Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115, cell 604-240-0827 or office 604-291-8831; or Charles Gordon, 604-734-8001; or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, cell 778-896-0964 or 604-844-7827