Unionized painters and tapers in Ontario’s ICI sector gave notice on Monday (June 20) that they would be walking off the job after rejecting the latest contract offer from the Painters Employer Bargaining Agency.
As members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), the painters and tapers join glaziers and other colleagues partaking in the job action. The glaziers—totaling some 500 workers—were reported to have begun their strike on June 13 after negotiations broke off on May 31.
According to terms of provincial legislation, Ontario collective agreements covering 25 ICI trades expired on April 30, with many agreements renewed to date. While some of the contracts were successfully renewed, such as will carpenters, electricians, plumbers and operating engineers, other ratification voting on proposed agreements affecting a handful of trades are still underway.
Painters and tapers had begun negotiating earlier this month. Reports indicate that as part of the process, the union had asked for a no-board report from the Ministry of Labor, Training and Skills Development on May 27. While they were granted the report, it put the union in a position to strike, should they be unable to reach a deal after the mandatory 17-day waiting period.
On June 15, a second deal was proposed, offering tapers $8 over three years and painters $5 over the same period. This deal was rejected by 40% of the union, allowing IUPAT executives to opt to take the strike action the next morning.
As a result, painters and tapers walked off the job on June 20. According to reports, no new talks have been scheduled at this time and representatives from both sides were not immediately available to comment.
The Ontario construction industry negotiations have taken place against a backdrop of labor shortages in the sector and historic cost of living increases, with workers demanding hourly wage hikes to address what trades unions call a crisis in affordability.
Strikes in the US
After several days of striking in April, 600 members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri, voted to accept a new contract offered by local nonprofit commercial construction employee group, The Builders’ Association.
When members of IUPAT Local 2012 first announced they were going on strike, Kansas City’s KSHB 41 News reported that members attributed their collective decision to answering calls to work during the height of the pandemic, and although they’ve continued working still, were not having successful pay increase negotiations.
In early discussions, The Builders’ Association was reported to have offered to increase hourly rates for work to more than $32 per hour, along with other benefits, on behalf of the strikers. However, according to reports, this amount would have only amounted to a pay raise of just 1%.
Given the economic inflation and rising consumer prices—8.5% in the 12 months ending in March—the offer would have meant a 7.5% cut in workers’ real income.
Despite the effort, the strike was reported to only last eight days, as the union was seeking to isolate the strike and end it as soon as possible. On Sunday (April 17), IUPAT District Council 3 announced on its Facebook page that it would be ordering a “stand-down” Monday after supposed progress in negotiations.
The following week, members of IUPAT Local 2012 voted to accept a new contract offered by The Builders’ Association.
According to reports, the new contract includes a 2.5% to 3% wage increase for members (depending on the trade). It is also reported to be the highest wage increase the union has voted on since 2005. IUPAT removed an aspect regarding residential worker rates from the contract to sweeten the deal, according to Joey Flickner, Director of Servicing for the union.