Talks ‘productive’ as Lower Mainland concrete strike looms

The company in charge of workers at one of the Lower Mainland’s largest concrete suppliers says it has “engaged in productive discussions” with the union representing its employees.

This comes after the union, Teamsters Local 213, issued a 72-hour strike notice on Tuesday.

Heidelberg Materials told CityNews on Wednesday that “the company continues to discuss open items with the Union.” Adding that a meditator is “working toward a resolution with the current negotiations that will benefit both parties and allow us to move forward.”

It was previously revealed on social media that the union was seeking better pay, job security, and stable retirement benefits for its members.

CityNews contacted Teamsters Local 213 on Wednesday for an update regarding its perspective on negotiations but did not receive a response.

The union had also previously threatened job action in May, which was averted when both parties agreed to mediation in June. However, it is unclear what has transpired since then.

Local builder fears prospect of potential job action

The potential job action has put some involved in Metro Vancouver’s construction sector on edge.

One local builder expressed concern, recalling the union’s five-week strike in 2022, which was linked to significant project delays.

“Horrible timing, it’s going to have a pretty quick ripple effect,” Sal Nasery said.

Nasery, a lead project manager with Vancouver General Contractors, worries that the potential strike could halt concrete supply on a large scale, similar to the disruption experienced two years ago.

“Something like this, delays projects, increases prices, it makes it very tough to conduct business,” he said.

Nasery says the impacts would be felt “right away.”

“There are thousands of projects going on throughout the Lower Mainland every day, everything needs concrete,” he said.

Heidelberg Materials is said to provide roughly one-third of the region’s concrete supply.

BC Construction Association offers a different perspective

It’s not all doom and gloom though.

The BC Construction Association (BCCA) believes that this potential job action would not have the same catastrophic impact on the construction sector as it did in 2022.

“Things are a little bit different this time,” BCCA President Chris Atchison said. “If we go back to the last time there was a disruption…there was also severe supply chain disruption, and there was an unfortunate fire at one of the main providers. None of those other conditions exists right now,” he added.

“It was a bit of a perfect storm.”

Atchison points out that the strength of concrete suppliers has also significantly improved over the past two years.

“In terms of the numbers of providers [and] the availability of materials,” he said.

If current negotiations fail, it would put Teamsters Local 213 members in a position to picket starting Friday morning.

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