Thousands of carpenters are likely to replace their hammers with picket signs Monday as a province-wide group walks of the job, joining thousands of other construction workers who are already on strike for higher wages.
“Nobody wants to go on strike,” said Carpenters District Council of Ontario president Mike Yorke.
Yorke estimates about 15,000 carpenters could be off their job sites at the beginning of the week.
“Our union hasn’t been on strike in the ICI (Industrial, Commercial and Residential) sector for 34 years but our members, from one side of the province to the other, have now voted overwhelmingly to tell their employers that we want a fair deal,” he said.
The union is looking for a new deal that takes into account rampant inflation which clocked in at 6.7 per cent in March.
“It’s really down to financial compensation,” Yorke said. “Our members are very concerned about the cost of living — whether it’s housing, groceries, or gasoline to get to work. It is a challenge.”
Those cost-of-living concerns mirror those of the two other construction unions that walked off the job this week.
About 15,000 members of the Laborers International Union of North America and some 6,000 crane and heavy-equipment operators are also on strike.
That has the Residential Construction Council of Ontario worried about the potential negative impact on housing supply, which is already regarded as far too low.
Yorke said he does not expect Monday’s strike by carpenters will affect home building because those walking out work mainly on industrial and commercial projects.
The carpenters say they have been among essential workers who stayed on the job throughout the pandemic and deserved to be recognized for what they did over the last two years.
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“We’re driving the economy,” Yorke said.
“We believe we are creating incredible wealth in our country and our members deserve a larger share of the wealth that we do create.”
The union said it offered more talks Friday — and even into the weekend — but said it was rebuffed.