“Most DC38 construction members are aware of their Market Recovery (MR) deductions, and some grumble about this,” according to Dave Holmes, Business Manager of District Council 38.
“All too often though there is little recognition of the program’s benefits for both fellow members and our contractors,” he says.
The Market Recovery Fund was created on May 11, 1997, when in response to a shrinking contractor base and too many unemployed members, Painters voted at a special meeting to establish the program.
“At the time non-union competition was putting us out of business, quite literally,” says Holmes. “Our employers were losing their long term clients and the wage gaps, up to 50%, were making us uncompetitive. Our choices at the time were to either slash the Agreement or try to gain work through the implementation of Market Recovery”.
Don Bauer is a DC38 Painter in Victoria who says he has worked on as many as 40 or 50 Market Recovery jobs in the last twenty years.
“I was there for the 1997 vote with Brother Holmes and I voted in favour of setting up the fund,” says Don.
“I was seeing our market share dropping just about every day it seemed. I think the fund has become very important to maintaining work for our members.”
“Sometimes I tell members who may grumble about their deduction that MR really amounts to a small payment towards buying yourself a job,” says Don. “I think that’s a pretty smart investment in yourself and in the Union.”
In the 20 years since implementation of the Fund, the Union has:
- seen the stabilization of its contractor base;
- seen the ability to negotiate increases, depending on the marketplace and market conditions;
- maintained the integrity of its Pension and Health & Welfare plans, ensuring that they’ve continued to provide excellent benefits to our members and their families throughout their careers and into retirement;
- been able to elevate, and continue to promote, a high standard of skill in its chosen professions. The Union has done this in conjunction with the development of its training facility, the Finishing Trades Institute of BC.
Peter Wilson moved to BC from Toronto in 2008 when he joined the Union for work as a Commercial Painter. He thinks that the MR program makes good sense.
“The last two jobs I have worked on were helped by market recovery contributions, and they kept four or five of us busy for a year-and-a-half,” he says. “If I have to give a little to get a little so that I’m not sitting at home, I’m happy to contribute.”
An analysis of the 2016 results, for both the Painting Industry Advancement Fund (PIAF) and the Wall and Ceiling Industry Advancement Fund (WCIAF), shows that the programs generated 172,500 member hours, or the equivalent of 83 full-time jobs.
Those 172,500 additional hours generated just under $7 million in additional wages and benefits to DC38 members.
Given that the cost of the fund was about $530,000, Market Recovered projects resulted in a thirteen-to-one return on every dollar paid out.
Jim Ewing is a DC38 Lather with 42 years of experience and says one in every three jobs he has worked on in recent years is the result of MR support.
“Ninety-nine percent of our members only see the MR as a deduction, but it is essential if our contractors are going to compete with the non-union operators,” says Jim.
“And what doesn’t show up in the MR statistics is the additional jobs handed to us because we are on-site and the client gets to know us and likes our work. A lot of that goes on,” he says.
Another member who benefitted from the WCIAF is Wayne Howatt who retired as a DC38 Lather last June. “I do miss it a bit,” he says.
“Sometimes some of our members don’t see how tough it is to compete with the non-union sector. Our benefit package is worth $5 an hour and when added to the wages it can mean a non-union Lather is being paid $25 an hour while we are at $40 — that’s a big difference,” says Wayne.
“I certainly saw the benefits of the MR first-hand, and I think it is essential if our contractors are going to be able to compete.”
“We all benefit.”
Business Manager, Holmes, agrees: “As the stats show, MR creates job opportunities for our brothers and sisters. I supported the program when it began, and I support the program now, knowing that my contribution benefits every single member who works in the craft.”
“In 1997, Painters made a choice to support their fellow Brothers and Sisters. Twenty years later, with the addition of the Lathers & Drywall Finishers, we continue to support each other. A proud choice for a proud organization.”