Southwest Properties is asking the court to intervene in what Southwest calls “illegal picketing and related activities” by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 721 at the South Park Street YMCA project.
More than 100 union members embarked on a legal strike last week. The union represents both crane operators and heavy equipment operators.
Most of the other tradeworkers’ unions in Nova Scotia have recently reached contract agreements that include a 1.5 per cent annual wage hike. Reportedly, contract negotiations with the heavy equipment operators were going well, but the crane operators were not getting the same deal. Because they are represented by the same union, both the crane operators and the heavy equipment operators went on strike.
Union members have been picketing at the Queen’s Marque project on the waterfront and at the Y, as well as at other construction sites.
The Y site is being developed by Southwest Properties. Southwest filed paperwork with the court Monday afternoon, but as of this morning, the file was still not available for review by the Examiner. The title of the file, however, reads:
Southwest Properties Limited v International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 721, its business agent, president and members, and unnamed persons engaged in illegal picketing and related activities at the South Park Street Project.
Southwest president Jim Spatz did not immediately return a call for comment. But presumably, Southwest is asking for a court injunction against the union.
Without access to the court file or comment from Spatz, it’s impossible to know why Southwest thinks the picketing at the Y is “illegal.” I went by the site this morning, and as is typical in such strikes, about a dozen union members were picketing on the public right-of-way. I witnessed no obstruction of equipment or other disruptions of the work site.
When I told the picketers of the court action against them, they said they weren’t surprised. They referred all questions to Joey MacLellan, the business manager for the union. MacLellan did not immediately respond to a call for comment.