Canadian Contractor


How unions encourage the cash economy

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Pressure from unions push costs up, and workers out, of the legitimate economy.

Here’s a letter from a reader in response to a recent post.


We will soon be very much like Greece.

Quebec has a very large underground economy already because everyone legitimate is union or they don’t work. We had a family member move to Quebec for experience and found she could only work if she worked for cash.

Our company is based in Ontario and has been under attack by the carpenters union for over 10 years. They could not get over 50 per cent card signing (A union must be able to sign at least 50 per cent of the employees within a company in order to be certified. Ed.) so they accused us of unfair labour practices and Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) supported them.

Our cost to hire a union carpenter is now $49 per hour, with equipment and O&P (overhead and profit) we need to charge them out at $80 to $90 to make any money. Because of the OLRB decision we no longer hire people from our local community because most have little or no construction experience. Since June 2010 we only manufacture. We do no site work or installation packages in Ontario or Quebec.

Most underground construction work is completed for $20 to $25 per hour. [40K to 50K no tax] and a lot of this underground work is completed for persons belonging to a union. Most small companies close after being forced to become signatory to a union. We had 14 site staff in June 2010. We now have zero site staff. We now assemble or panelize as much as possible to eliminate site labour.

We quoted work for a 800-bed construction camp being set up for hydro dam repairs. The camp ended up being designed and built in China and shipped in sections, about 500 12′ X 40′ units. Quoting the entire camp installation was not even an option for any Canadian companies.


The European union now makes nine out of 10 decisions instead of the governments of the countries who joined several years ago. The underground now thrives in these countries.

I don’t expect you to write anything on this because it would politically incorrect.
Jim VanderWal

VanderWall Homes and Commercial Group

Petrolia, Ontario


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