PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. (CP) -- The Canadian Maintenance and Allied Workers was involved in a dispute over the matter with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.
In March, the contract was awarded to Bechtel Canada, which entered into a new labour agreement with the American-headquartered International Building Trades Unions.
The deal excluded the Prince Rupert workers.
During the summer, Bechtel grew concerned about possible labour instability and an inadequate supply of qualified carpenters without Canadian Maintenance and Allied members being included in the expansion project.
Bechtel then drafted an agreement to welcome Canadian Maintenance and Allied union members.
But the International Building Trades Union opposed the inclusion of the Canadian union on the project and the issue went to the B.C. Labour Relations Board to be resolved.
Ken Lippett, business manager for CMAW carpenter locals in the Prince Rupert area, said that was another attempt by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America to derail the movement of Canadian workers to Canadian construction sites.
"Before finally leaving three years ago, we struggled with the UBCJA, its arrogance and constant interference in our local union's affairs," Lippett said.
"It just never ceases to amaze us that the greatest threat to our community comes from an American-based organization that calls itself a union," he said.
"It further amazes us that the federal and provincial governments allow these so-called unions to treat Canadians as a commodity like lumber and nails."
Lippett said that if the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America had been successful, union members wishing to work on the project would have had to rejoin the American union that they voted to leave three years ago.
In its Aug. 15 ruling, the Labour Relations Board said the Rio Tinto Alcan project is of significant importance to the local economy and area citizens.
In his written decision, the board's chairman of adjudication said it was "not prepared to accept the (International Building Trades Union) claim that CMAW should have no right to represent its members on the project."
Fleming said the solution to resolving the dispute "should enhance labour relations stability on the project as well as predictability, and certainly contribute to the success of the project."
Since the decision, Prince Rupert contractors and carpenters have been working on the Rio Tinto Alcan project
(c) Canadian Press