Housing deliveries compromised amid illegal strike

by Neil Sharma on 26 Mar 2021

Construction in the GTA might come to a standstill—and the timing couldn’t be worse since it will come amid a housing boom not seen in years.

Local 183 of the Labourers International Union of North America is ignoring a ruling from the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) against the former’s attempt to prevent its bricklayers from working, and in doing so it’s drawn the ire of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), which contends that it’s intentionally stymieing the construction of crucially important housing deliveries to organize or interfere with stucco/EIFS contractors represented by a rival union.

“This is happening at a time when the industry has been declared an essential service by the government and we are struggling to keep pace with the demand for new housing in the face of COVID-19-related challenges,” said Richard Lyall, RESCON’s president. “As a result of the union’s illegal actions, thousands of homes will not be completed on time.”

Local 183 did not respond to CREW’s requests for comment before time of publication.

Construction was deemed an essential service when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and since then, the industry has been busier than ever because low-interest rates have catalyzed another housing rush—one believed to be more frenetic than in 2016.

RESCON data suggests that Ontario’s housing shortage has grown to such heights that 75,000 new housing deliveries per annum are needed over the next 24 years just to meet demand; the annual shortage, however, numbers somewhere around 12,000 units.

“This has resulted in essential workers not being able to go to work to support their families,” said Gary Campacci, president and co-owner of DuROCK Alfacing International Ltd. “After months of litigation, there are many builders still not able to complete their homes, resulting in closing delays.”

According to Ron Johnson, executive director of the Interior Systems Contractors Association, homebuyers will ultimately bear the brunt of Local 183’s actions.

"The actions of Local 183 are very disturbing and selfish, given the negative impact on homebuyers and workers within the residential construction industry," he said. "Local 183's continued actions contravene the OLRB's order and continue to negatively affect homebuyers."

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