From humble beginnings has come an open shop giant. Founded in 1975 in the small
town of Trail, B.C., by a group of open shop contractors denied access to bidding, the
Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) has grown to be a powerful voice for the open shop construction and responsible resource development industries.
With a reach that extends into Alberta, the association represents 2,000 member
companies and clients who collectively employ more than 50,000 people. ICBA speaks out on issues that impact members, including labour and employment policies, fair tendering, safety policies, regulation, taxation and infrastructure. ICBA fights for fair and open competition in awarding contracts for public projects.
ICBA communications director Jordan Bateman says advocacy is one of the association’s
key member benefits. Pushing government at all levels to approve projects, he says ICBA is unapologetic in its support of construction and resource development.
“We’re fighting hard against Bill C-69 and are focused on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project. We fought hard to get a yes for this and now we’re doing all we can to make it stick.”
Construction is a tough industry, Bateman says, and ensuring the industry’s voice is heard
above the din of professional protestors, pandering politicians, and negative non-governmental organizations (NGOs) requires a similar toughness.
“Unlike many associations who fear rocking the boat, we consider ourselves an advocacy
machine,” said Bateman. “While we offer solid, well-reasoned policy advice, our DNA has
shaped us into a battle tank, rather than just a think tank.”
The association’s second largest member benefit is, in fact, benefits. ICBA offers the
number one solution for industry, balancing a simple system for health, drug and retirement benefits that are inexpensive for members. “These benefits save employers time and money, and help them recruit, retain and protect their employees,” said Bateman.
Beyond essential health and retirement, the specialized benefits arm also offers
consulting and specialized services including travel benefits for employees working abroad,
bonding, liability, and property and casualty insurance.
While ICBA represents some of Canada’s largest companies, Bateman says about 90 per
cent of the membership is comprised of small businesses. “We have a lot of passion for small companies and for those just starting out. They are our lifeblood.”
Part of supporting these businesses involves training. Last year, Bateman says the
association trained 3,500 employees through 250 courses. “We are the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in B.C., taking care of the paperwork so our members can focus on training and working directly with their apprentices.”
Understanding the growing challenge to the workforce, ICBA supports trade schools with
donations to buy new equipment, supports the appeal of trades careers through wage and benefit analysis, and takes part in other activities to promote and educate the public on the advantages of related occupations.
“Construction offers a great income to start but also great potential for anyone with any
kind of entrepreneurial bent to create their own opportunities,” said Bateman. “Today’s workers are often tomorrow’s company owners.”
Top 10 Open Shop Contractors Industry Leader (sponsored profile)