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Collective agreement decrees: raising standards for all

January 9, 2024

Quebec Steelworkers recently won a major victory – convincing the provincial government to enact a new collective agreement decree covering all traffic control workers employed at road construction sites. This is the first such decree to be enacted in 40 years.

Quebec’s decree system provides for the extension of certain collective agreement provisions to cover workers in an entire sector, regardless of whether they are unionized, thereby boosting wages and standards for all.

Crucially, the decree system defends workers by thwarting employers who attempt to win contracts in the bidding process by undercutting wages and working conditions. A sector-wide decree prevents such contractstealing practices.

The new decree for traffic control workers at construction sites will increase wages by 26.3% over two years. We congratulate Steelworkers Local 8922 for leading the campaign for this new decree. Local 8922 members are well-aware of the benefits of the decree system. The local represents more than 16,000 workers in Quebec’s private security sector, where a decree has existed since the early 1980s.

Local 8922 negotiates contracts with an employers’ association, and the terms of these agreements apply to all workers in the sector. Over the years, Local 8922 has substantially improved working conditions for security workers, including higher wages, bonuses, pension contributions to the Quebec Federation of Labour’s Solidarity Fund, and more.

Unfortunately, employer associations want to abolish the decree system that has raised the working and living standards of so many workers and families. In the name of their sacred cow of “flexibility,” employers dearly want to be able to pay workers less.

Not only must existing collective agreement decrees be preserved, it is clear that more decrees are needed to cover workers in other sectors where there are large numbers of small workplaces, including retirement homes and school transportation.

In solidarity,
Dominic Lemieux
USW District 5 Director

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