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Council debating implementing fair wage policy

By Miller Reynolds

Contractors in the Belleville area may soon be working on a more level playing field.

Belleville city council will have to decide whether or not to approve a fair wage policy, which would ensure that non-unionized and unionized workers will receive the same amount of wages for the same work being done on city projects.

Union representatives presented a power point presentation about fair wages at last Monday’s council meeting, and council is now reviewing the policy.

Mike York, president of the Carpenters Local 27 in Toronto, said the fair wage policy has been in place in Toronto for over 100 years, and would benefit the City of Belleville.

“It’s been a very effective mechanism to ensure that workers are paid appropriately and accordingly to a standard rate within the industry,” he said.

“It establishes a level playing field for all contractors wishing to do business with the city,”

York said this policy would force contractors to rely on other qualifications to stand out from the crowd to be hired by the city.

“Once the decision making is based on who has the most productive workers, who has the safest workforce, whose workers deliver a quality project on time, then it’s all driven by a more level playing field,” he said.

“Why should one contractor have an advantage over all the contractors in the sector just because they exploit their workers to a greater degree?” he said.

Joel Neville, business manager for the Local 397 carpenters union, said the policy would attract contractors to work in Belleville.

“You’re attracting a better tradesperson, people who are more inclined to go and work somewhere where they’re getting a good wage, and if they don’t than they’re going to go elsewhere,”

City councillor Pat Culhane, who has about 16 years of union work experience, said she needs more information before she can decide whether or not this policy is suitable for Belleville.

“Of course I want to see reasonable, decent wages paid to people, and I see the problems in society today with people working two and sometimes even three part times jobs at minimum wage,” she said. “I have to have more information.”

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