Ironworkers accuse subcontractor for Corner Brook long-term care facility of passing over local workers

The ironworkers union claims a subcontractor from Prince Edward Island hired to work on the new long-term care facility is bypassing qualified local workers in favor of those from outside the province.

Union says qualified local tradespeople are being overlooked by P.E.I.-based company

Francis Simms, a business agent for Ironworkers union Local 764, says union members are being passed over for workers from the home province of a subcontractor hired to work on Corner Brook's new long-term care facility. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

Members of Ironworkers Local 764 protested Monday at the future site of the new long-term care facility in Corner Brook, accusing a subcontractor of discrimination against local workers.

Ironworkers business agent Francis Simms said union members are upset that despite having numerous qualified, local workers available in western Newfoundland to assist in the project, Prince Edward Island-based subcontractor MacDougall Steel Erectors is using workers mainly from its own province. 

More than two dozen skilled tradespeople gathered at the site of the planned facility in Corner Brook on Monday. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

"Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have always been known for their skill, especially in the ironworking business," said Simms.

"Our question is, why would a contractor bring in people from outside the province, when the people they need are already here?"

More than two dozen skilled trade workers stood at the entrance to the job site throughout much of the day on Monday, some arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. for a peaceful demonstration that prevented equipment, including a large crane, from moving through. 

Simms said there is no adjacency-based employment requirement in place for this particular job, unlike in other large-scale projects such as Muskrat Falls.

"It's very important for people to work and live with their families and be with their families," he said.

"It just makes good social sense and financial sense to have me living in my own house, eating at my own table, going off to work in the morning and having a safe, productive day."

Simms says demonstrations will continue until MacDougall Steel Erectors is persuaded to hire workers from western Newfoundland. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

Simms said he contacted a representative from MacDougall Steel Erectors six weeks ago but was told the union's services would not be needed at this time. He said demonstrations will continue until the company hires workers from western Newfoundland.

CBC's repeated requests to MacDougall Steel Erectors' head office in Borden-Carleton for comment Monday went unanswered. 

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