Carpenters in Ontario now on strike

Union hasn’t been on strike in the ICI sector for 34 years

Sean Blake and Chris Champbell

More than 15,000 carpenters in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sector of the construction industry in Ontario went on strike on Monday.

The striking workers who are members of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario (CDCO) and have been working under the Provincial ICI Collective Agreement, have voted to reject their employers’ last offer.

“Nobody wants to go on strike”, said Mike Yorke, the CDCO’s President and Director of Public Affairs and Innovation, “and our Union hasn’t been on strike in the ICI sector for 34 years but our members, from one side of the province to the other, have now voted overwhelming to tell their employers that we want a fair deal”.

“Carpenters, like other construction workers, kept working on jobsites to build critical infrastructure all the way through the COVID crisis. Their work was seen as essential during the pandemic and because of this, and because of spiralling cost of living increases, our Union and our members believe that wages now have to be increased”, Yorke added.

Chris Campbell, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Representative of the CDCO and Vice President of the Toronto Carpenters’ Union Local 27, told The Caribbean Camera that the striking carpenters “have spoken passionately about their frustration over the increasing cost of gas, grocery, parking, home ownership and vehicle expenses.”

Campbell noted that during the strike vote meeting “the members clearly articulated the comparison between the percentage wage increase offered by contractors and the percentage of inflation rate as stated by the Canadian Consumer Price Index, March 2022.”

“I’m hoping the parties will come back to the table with a better offer and resolve this strike sooner than later,” he added.

Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath has released a statement in solidarity with the striking carpenters. “They deserve wages that keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living,” it noted.

The CDCO is composed of 17 affiliated local unions of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners across the province.