On Wednesday, September 25, 2019, IBEW 213 issued strike notice on Ledcor LTS, and at noon on Monday, September 30 members walked off the job and struck the LTS office on Broadway in Port Coquitlam.
In the summer of 2017, workers at the Ledcor Group’s Telecommunications division, Ledcor Technical Solutions (LTS), organized into Local 213 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW 213).
Telecommunications is a predominately nonunion industry. The reasons LTS workers decided to organize into a union are they were experiencing regular cuts in pay, extended work hours, required unpaid work, unjust termination, and general poor working conditions. These workers chose to bargain collectively with their employer, which is their right.
It has been two years since IBEW 213 started collective bargaining with LTS towards a first collective agreement, with little progress.
Rather than bargain in good faith, LTS management has chosen to waste time at the bargaining table, terminate workers at will, subcontract out the work, and engage in anti-union animus.
How did we get here? A timeline:
The LTS bargaining unit was certified by the Canada Labour Board on August 31, 2017.
IBEW 213 served LTS notice to bargain in early September, 2017.
At the time of the certification, LTS employed 238 in the bargaining unit.
LTS disputed the size of the bargaining unit, saying it consisted only of two groups of workers.
IBEW 213 filed an application to review the certification, as well as an unfair labour practices complaint with the Labour Board.
November 2018 the application to review was heard, and January 2019 the Board awarded the IBEW 213 two groups of employees that LTS had disputed were part of the union certification.
By the time of the Board’s decision, LTS had eroded the bargaining unit down to 161 workers, a 32 per cent reduction since certification.
This erosion included the complete elimination of a whole department – Drop Technicians – mere days after the Board decision that found they were included in the bargaining unit.
Work that used to be performed by LTS Drop Technicians is now being subcontracted out.
After 17 days of collective bargaining over two years with little more than basic worker rights have been acknowledged and agreed to by LTS, including recognizing basic human rights, health and safety, and, ironically, to abide by legislation.
On August 13, 2019, Iain Morris, Ledcor Chief Operating Office, stated, “We believe our employees won’t be fooled by your rhetoric about mass firings and the cutting of pay. They know that is untrue.”
On August 21 IBEW members from across the country rallied outside Ledcor offices in downtown Vancouver to demand LTS get back to the bargaining table and bargain in good faith.
That evening, LTS members voted in favour of strike action.
Then, on September 25, Ledcor broke the law and their own word when they laid off en-mass 31 IBEW 213 members.
IBEW 213 responded by initiating 72-hour strike notice, and on Monday, September 30 LTS workers walked off the job and began picketing the LTS office on Broadway in Port Coquitlam.