Construction has halted on scores commercial, industrial, hospital and school projects in Ontario as members of the Laborers� International Union of North America (LIUNA) remain off their jobs. Twelve union locals representing 25,000 members went on strike June 4 after two months negotiations failed to produce a new three-year contract with the Provincial Employer Bargaining Agency for the Labourers. PEBAL represents five construction employer associations: the Construction Labour Relations Association of Ontario (General Contractors); the Industrial Contractors Association of Canada; the Sealant and Waterproofing Association; the Concrete Floor Contractors Association of Ontario; and the Ontario Masonry Contractors Association.

The union blames internal disputes among PEBAL members for the failure to make a monetary offer. Contractors point to disagreements over union jurisdictional issues, according to published reports. Clive Thurston, Ontario General Contractors Association general manager, says the strike has been very disruptive and will have a profound impact on large multi-year projects if it lasts much longer. One of the most prominent is Toyota Canada�s $930-million auto assembly plant in Woodstock. Scheduled to open in 2008, it is the first greenfield automotive plant in Canada in more than a decade. Canadian press reports indicate that the strike has halted inside work on the plant, but that the project remains on schedule.

Construction could be affected if the strike continues much longer, says Jim MacKinnon, business manager of LIUNA Local 1059. Neither Toyota nor London, Ontario-based McKay-Cocker Construction Ltd., the construction manager, would comment. An Ontario Ministry of Labour inquiry into the strike has been under way since June 11 and a report by construction mediator Robert Herman is expected shortly.