Construction underway at the K+S Bethune Mine in Saskatchewan, which officially opened in May 2017.

Contractors and Local 555 of the Boilermakers union in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northwestern Ontario have reached a groundbreaking bargaining agreement in the maintenance industry, and that’s nothing but good news for both sides.

For contractors, it means that work such as plant shutdowns, maintenance, and restarts will now be done under an agreement specific to the maintenance industry and the specific conditions that exist in it. It will make them more competitive and help them win more contracts.

For boilermakers, it means the possibility of more regular work, as the contractors we work with become more competitive.

Joe Maloney, Canadian vice-president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, says the agreement will strengthen an already solid relationship with the Boilermaker Contractors Association (BCA).

“This only improves the co-operative working relationship we have with the BCA and its members,” he says. “It’s a co-operative partnership that benefits both our members and the contractors we work for.”

Members of the boilermakers union already provide a great deal of value added for contractors. For example, the union’s job-ready dispatch system ensures that the boilermakers sent to a worksite are fully trained and qualified in skills that are required in a shutdown. Those qualifications include fall arrest, working at heights and in confined spaces, respirator fit testing, and audiometric testing.

Boilermakers, as well as members of other unionized trades, have the best training in the industry thanks to a cross-country network of state-of-the-art training facilities, funded by employer contributions and administered jointly with the union.

That kind of training pays off on the job in greater efficiency, safer operations, and work that gets done on time and on budget. When our contractors succeed, we succeed.

The co-operative relationship with our contractors is one aspect of our work ethos, which is summarized in our Boilermaker Code. The code is a 16-point summary of our work ethic and the pride we take in our work. We encourage our members to “live the code” every day on the job.

We in the union look forward to continuing our long and productive working relationship with our contractors. And we’ll keep reminding the industry that union boilermakers bring added value to the table. Don’t shut down without us!

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