Sheet metal workers’ strike continues as contractors break off negotiations

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sheet metal picket line ontario
Sheet Metal Workers' Union Local 30 members take a pizza break while on the picket line (Local 30 Facebook page)

While Ontario’s industrial, commercial and institutional plumbers and pipefitters have returned to work, there’s no sign of an imminent settlement for thousands of sheet metal workers across the province.

The Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofer’ Union reports that employers represented by the Ontario Sheet Metal Contractors Association, are holding out for a 40 hour work-week.

“Negotiations just broke down,” Local 47 Ottawa business agent Floyd Cunning wrote in a memo to members on Monday afternoon. “Contractors just left the table and will give us date in the undetermined future. The 40 hour work week still remains.”

Several Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) locals, especially Ottawa and Toronto, currently have a 36-hour work week, as do the plumbers and pipefitters and some other trades. Employers have been pushing for a 40-hour work-week, which is the norm in other parts of the province, especially in Northern Ontario.

Another issue at dispute relates to “naming rights” — whether employers can select the workers they want for projects, or must rely on the union hiring hall.

Toronto SMWIA Local 30 says it has received members’ approval to use its stabilization funds to increase members’ strike pay from $150 to $500 per week (with an extra $100 per week for picket captains). The pay includes $150 from the national union strike fund. One member reported on the local’s Facebook page that the local has enough funds for about 13 weeks at this level of pay.

Some members are working at non-sheet metal jobs to put food on the table as the strike, which started at the beginning of May, drags on.

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