211,000 construction workers in Quebec participate in union elections


Starting Monday, more than 211,000 workers in Quebec's construction industry will be called upon to elect the union of their choice – a vote that only takes place every four years.

This time the voting runs from June 3 to 22.

In practice, only those who wish to change their union affiliation are required to exercise their right to vote. For those who do not, a so-called 'presumption of affiliation' applies, meaning that their current membership is simply extended for another four years.

Five major employee associations are recognized in the industry: FTQ-Construction, Conseil provincial du Québec des métiers de la construction (International), Syndicat québécois de la construction, CSD-Construction and CSN-Construction.

At the end of the last vote in 2020, the FTQ-Construction represented 43 percent of the sector's employees, the Conseil provincial 23 percent, the SQC 19 percent, the CSD-Construction 8.7 percent and the CSN-Construction 6 percent.

The union campaign preceding the vote began on May 1 and will end next Sunday, June 2. This will be followed by postal voting, and the Quebec Construction Commission will be responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

“For us, this is a very important democratic exercise,” said Audrey Murray, president and CEO of CCQ. “And it's also important for workers to be able to exercise their discretion in their choice.”

“Why is union representativeness important? It is also part of the negotiation process because the percentage of representativeness determines the weight of the parties involved in ratifying the collective agreement. So when it comes time to vote on the acceptance of the agreement in principle, the unions, depending on what percentage of representativeness they have achieved, are not on equal footing,” Murray said.

In order for a collective agreement to be applicable in one of the industrial sectors, it must also be ratified by the employers' side and at least three trade union federations representing more than 50 percent of the sector's employees, the CCQ said.

The new union affiliations will take effect in September.

As for the rule-based period of raids, Murray said she had received reports: “We are reviewing these and will of course act accordingly based on the analysis that my audit and investigation team is conducting.”

Nevertheless, the climate in the construction industry is calmer than before.

“There have been changes in the culture of the industry over time,” Murray said. “I think there are things that have evolved in the strategy, in the way we communicate, in the way we position ourselves. So far, I think it's all going pretty smoothly.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024.