15,000 carpenters walk off job across GTA, joining thousands of other workers already on strike

Approximately 15,000 carpenters in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sector have walked off the job, joining thousands of other construction workers in a number of trades who went on strike last week.

Members of the Ontario chapter of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America began the strike action at 12:01 a.m. after rejecting their employers’ latest contract offer.

“Nobody wants to go on strike 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”, Carpenter’s District Council of Ontario President and Director of Public Affairs and Innovation Mike Yorke said in a press release issued last week.

“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 said last week that he was hopeful that the employers would return to the bargaining table and “try to work out an improved offer” prior to members walking off the job.

The midnight strike deadline, however, came and went without a new tentative agreement being reached.

The strike by carpenters in the ICI sector comes on the heels of six unions in the residential construction sector walking off the job last week.

Those unions represent approximately 15,000 additional construction workers.

The impacted trades include house framers, tile installers, carpet and hardwood installers and individuals who are involved with high rise forming work.

The Ontario Labour Relations Act currently stipulates that strikes or lockouts in the residential construction sector cannot exceed six weeks.