On the Picket Line

Ontario construction workers make gains as strikes continue

By John Steele
July 4, 2022

Tens of thousands of Ontario construction workers in the housing and the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors have returned to work after winning significant wage increases through strike actions begun in May. Their goal has been to counter the galloping inflation that has wreaked havoc on them and their families. 

Painters and tapers, members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, are set to strike the Painters Employer Bargaining Agency June 20.  This follows the advances made by 15 of the 25 construction trades, including laborers, carpenters, crane operators, demolition workers, roofers, and sheet metal workers. 

They will join the 500 glaziers in the painters union who downed tools June 13. They cut and install glass on construction projects. 

The tapers and painters rejected a tentative agreement reached between union officials and the bosses for an $8 an hour increase over three years for the tapers and $5 for the painters. In many of the other trades where strikers rejected tentative agreements they succeeded in forcing the bosses to come up with larger wage increases. 

At the high point of the fight, 43,000 strikers paralyzed the multi-billion-dollar construction industry across Ontario, in the midst of a construction boom centered in the Greater Toronto Area. This is where there is the highest concentration of construction workers, many of whom are recent immigrants. This province-wide strike movement is the first in many decades. 

For the 15,000 carpenters, it was their first strike in 34 years. Many strikers who voted down the original deal were younger and learned important lessons in solidarity and sacrifice, Carpenters District Council of Ontario President Mike Yorke told the press. “This will be a strike that will be remembered by our younger generation throughout their working lives,” he said.

Solidarity message for the painters, tapers and glaziers can be sent to IUPAT Ontario District Council 46, Bruno Mandic Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer, 132 Toro Road, Toronto, ON M3J 2A9; Tel. (416) 630-9604; Email: www.iupat.on.ca.