The Ontario Labour Relations Board is investigating a grievance between a carpenters union and the city that charges that its members were passed over for work on Tim Hortons Field.
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners local 18 charge that the metal panels installed on the outside of the stadium should have been done by its own members, rather than the subcontractor Ritz Architectural Systems.
The city is still trying to determine whether it even belongs in the complaint, said Gerry Davis, general manager of public works.
Infrastructure Ontario hired Ontario Sports Solutions, a consortium of two companies, to build the stadium. The city is just the stadium's eventual owner, Davis said.
“We want to work with the carpenters to resolve this to avoid further litigation,” he said. “We’ve been working with the carpenters for a number of years. We have a pretty good relationship. It’s an awkward situation.”
The stadium’s opening has been delayed by months. The original opening date was June 30. Now builders hope to have it finished by the Hamilton Tiger Cats Labour Day Classic game on Sept. 1.
The grievance, and the use of the subcontractor, didn’t contribute to the delay, Davis said.
Workers with Ritz Architectural Systems are members of the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers.
The city’s contract with the carpenters union specifies that members of its union are used for city work. And the RFP issued to build the stadium specified that union workers be used, Davis said.
The matter is scheduled for mediation, although Davis isn’t sure of the date yet. The city is focusing on determining whether it's the correct party for the grievance, he said.
Such jurisdictional disputes are not unusual in large construction projects, said Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster, a construction industry veteran who heads the city’s Pan Am subcommittee.
“Typically, the player steps back and the two unions sort it out,” he said. “It won’t affect this project. It’s very routine, these things.”
The dispute will “absolutely not” add a further delay to the stadium opening, he said.