A construction company involved in some recent building projects in Sudbury has been a hot topic in the legislature this month.

Bill 74 would free construction company EllisDon from a labour agreement that says it can only use unionized workers.

But opinion is split on whether the legislation will have a significant local impact.

EllisDon has employed hundreds of workers to do jobs in Sudbury, like redeveloping the city’s hospital.

Mike Ryan

Mike Ryan, who heads the local construction workers union in Sudbury, will be watching the debate over Bill 74. The bill proposes to amend the Labour Relations Act of 1995 to alter bargaining rights conferred by pre-1980 working agreements in the construction industry. (Chris Berube/CBC)

A spokesperson with the union that represents construction workers on many of these projects said he's not surprised to see legislation like this, even thought the union and the company has had a very good working relationship in the past.

"Well, I wouldn't say we had no issues,” Mike Ryan said. “But the issues we did have were corrected immediately. [We have a] very good rapport.”

Taking unions out of construction?

EllisDon signed the labour agreement in 1958 and, in arguing its case to get out of the agreement, said most of their competitors aren't bound by similar rules.

But the regional manager for Pioneer Construction in Sudbury said construction is a highly unionized industry here, and that's unlikely to change.

"I guess I don't know enough about what they're thinking, but I don't think this ruling will take unionization out of construction,” Malcolm Croskery said.

In a written statement, EllisDon vice president Tom Howell says the company will continue to employ more than 90 per cent of unionized workers, even if the bill passes.

In the meantime, Ryan said they will watch the proceedings with interest.

“We're constantly facing challenges from the legislative front,” he said.

The bill is expected to come before the Ontario legislature for a third reading Nov. 5.