Response to Tom Fletcher:
Tom Fletcher, I am responding to your columns criticizing the provincial government’s Community Benefits Agreement for public construction. For a guy who worked as a pipelayer, I thought you would be more sympathetic towards your former colleagues like me.
I am a retired journeyperson carpenter who completed a B.C. apprenticeship and was a union member for many years. I am also a concerned taxpayer who wants to make sure that when we are spending our tax dollars, workers get a fair share.
For wages and benefits, the only fair standard that I can see is the one agreed to by private contractors and democratic unions. As for conditions, lots of these jobs are long hours, hard work, and some are isolated camp jobs with no choice for accommodation or food. It makes sense to treat the women and men right and put it in writing.
Apprenticeship is not for union members only, it is part of the public education system. It isn’t easy to get started as an apprentice. It helps when it is clear that part of the job is training the next generation and everyone in construction does their share. We need to make sure everyone who wants to, has a chance to learn a trade.
Oh, and what is wrong with working people having a defined benefit pension? As a retired person, I appreciate the pension I earned.
Tom, I am sorry you seem to have had such a tough time in your construction career. Your experience was very different than mine.