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Opinion: Part 2 – Guilty – IBEW Union CLOSED Lorne’s Electric

Union interference took down Lorne's Electric and its owner, Eric Glahs. So who cares? Does IBEW care? Tell us what you think.


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November 19, 2014 by Alec Caldwell

My article last week was headlined with a question: Did IBEW certification cause the closure of Lorne’s Electric, Arnprior, Ont.?

Well, this week let me give my answer to that question: I find the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) absolutely GUILTY of sinking Lorne’s Electric. Read the following and decide for yourself.

As posted in LinkedIn Electrician: “In Feb. 2014 the union agreed to some financial assistance for upcoming work but did nothing to help Lorne’s Electric with work in progress or work quoted. The resulting extra costs of labour, union fees and other union-related expenses, which also directly affect WSIB and source deductions, forced them into bankruptcy.”

“Existing customers that employed them as a non-union contractors were of the common belief that the overpriced union rates would prevail and caused them to look elsewhere for electrical services.”

“The extra $400k in costs was more than his [owner Eric Glahs’] company could sustain. They are now undergoing liquidation”

So what about the 20 former Lorne’s Electric unionized tradesmen who are now out of work in this small Ontario town? They might be unemployed for ages and might be tempted to find non-union cash work to supplement their government benefits. Will they have liability insurance? Will they get permits and carry licensing? If they were to go under-the-table, it will be the unions who are first in line to condemn them as “illegal” operators. What an irony!

What about the owner, Eric Glahs? Can this company owner have another business outside of the union and if he does what are the restrictions? It seems due to his present position, he is now working an hourly job to help support his family and pay his debts.

Union interference took down this owner. He did nothing wrong; he built the company over 20 years and suddenly it was gone. He probably planned to sell it sometime in the future for his retirement – and, well, that’s gone, too.

So who cares? Does IBEW care? Do YOU care?

Have your say here! If you want anonymity, comment with first name only.

Thank you.

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Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell is the Founder of CARAHS, a Health & Safety Organization. We are approved providers by the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) to teach Working at Heights Training (Pro#34609) Visit the Ministry of Labour's web site to view our listing
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12 Comments » for Opinion: Part 2 – Guilty – IBEW Union CLOSED Lorne’s Electric
  1. Bob2 says:

    Unions have lost their way, the goal is to monopolize ( join us or die), helping employees get better wages should not mean putting people out of business, people start businesses to make money and earn a living, they take the risk, put up the capital and spend years without proper compensation before the business starts giving back, then a couple of suits walk in and shut them down if their outrageous demands can’t be met.

    If they don’t smarten up they will feel the wrath of the public, the jobless and the price gouged with not be too friendly to unions.

    • Crz8 says:

      Unions are a business like anything else. I estimate that 95% of them are interested in meeting their quotas and making money and keeping their jobs and fancy perqs. Do not mistake them for someone who cares about the worker because there are literally a handful of union execs and organizers who truthfully care about the worker.

      • Bob2 says:

        ” Do not mistake them for someone who cares about the worker ”

        LOL, that was hilarious..LOL

        Believe me, I know the objective of unions, it’s to make money as you said, nothing more.

  2. Jack B. Nimble says:

    Unions had a purpose at one time but now they are a self serving bully. The other problem is that union employes are all pro Union when it comes to their income and very non union when it comes to parting with it. They shop where their dollar goes the furthest (which is non union businesses). The fact that you have an electrical contractor that is operating outside what the market will financially support, and that needs a life line to survive, is just silly. Is the union responsible for this business going under? No. The simple answer is employees and greed. I feel bad for the poor owner of the company that took all the risk and who ends up bankrupt. The employees will move on to another company, most likely a thriving non union company, and bitch about slightly lower wages and infect that company by lowering the moral, and getting it to unionize, and the process will repeat with another company failing. The only things unions protect is lazy, bad tradesmen with a sense of self entitlement….. and of course themselves.

  3. Sean Keane says:

    Alec,
    great controversy once again. By reading a lot of these comments you can definitely get a sense of the difference between union minded workers vs employers.
    I feel bad for this contractor if it is true that only 2% of the workers forced this situation upon them. If that is the case it is a gross miscarriage of justice and should be investigated thoroughly. My understanding the law states 50 + 1 in order to certify.
    That being said some of the sentiments here also ring true. The Labour Board has been long known to be sympathetic toward Unions. The chances of keeping the Union of your back is nil when it comes to their decision making process. To fight you need to hare a Labor Lawyer and the cost to do so is also unfair. When you have to pay out thousands to a lawyer when your fighting against a union salaried lawyer. The balance is always against you.
    The unions are allowed to intimidate with impunity and the minute you as an employer have any discussion with an employee you are guilty of intimidation in the eyes of the labor board. Unions will always cry that they do no harm, they do not employ any unsavory tactics to get what they want yet we all know they do and are supported by the labor board.
    One of your responders is in my belief correct, unions no longer serve the members they so adamantly say they are trying to protect. Look at the last few years in Ontario the unions have been behind bill 119 and forced that bill through legislation. Something that their membership would not have supported knowing what we know now. Ask any union worker in this Province who protects them in their time of need if injured at work. They would all tell you that its their union. Its not. If you are injured on the job it is the sole responsibility of the WSIB as dictated by legislation who provides any injured worker the financial coverage. The union only covers you at home. So why do we need the Union.
    The OCOT another wonderful union idea that has since backfired forcing qualified trade like electricians and plumbers to pay a separate license to work. I am certain the membership was not on board with that either.
    Look at Alberta they were fed up with the unions dictating how they live. They got rid of them for the most part its far past the time we started that here.
    That being said there are a couple of good unions out there that have the interest of there members at heart but they are few and far between.

  4. Robert says:

    Sean, if you own a small open shop please learn about card based certification today. It is not 50% + 1…..it is 50% + 1 on the day of the vote! It was the very first bill passed by Dalton McGuinty over 10 years ago now. So if you have a 40 man shop and 5 guys work on December 30th (Like Lorne’s Electric) only 3 men are needed to decide the outcome of the other 37 men. The other 37 men have 2 options. Become unemployed and half his staff did. Or join the union and half his staff did. Yes a union can be decertified during a 60 day period once every 4 years if the staff can pay a lawyer $40 – $75K to do so. The company can have no say in the matter. I know lots of people in unions and none who think this is fair. Some giggle or sneer like a mobster and some are genuinely embarrassed about it. No one without a stake in the matter living in a democratic country feels it is right. To further empower these thugs with tax free status as if they are not big business is an outrage. To allow tax free status with no auditing is guaranteed to determine the election outcomes.

  5. Glen says:

    THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE
    I did not know about that “card based certification” vote”So if you have a 40 man shop and 5 guys work on December 30th (Like Lorne’s Electric) only 3 men are needed to decide the outcome of the other 37 men”.
    Absolutley unbelievable!

  6. Questo says:

    At first, thanks to scoot on the first part of this matter in correcting some issue I was told about the timing to restart the business cycle.

    I was told by a friend of mine, which have some companies under his name, none union, he could switch people around to avoid union card problems, or restart another company, if is reality or not, I am not sure.

    Well what I read so far its interesting, I believe the owner of Lorne’s electric, may have a chance for a lawsuit, against the Liberal government, the IBEW, also the two were working for him which destroy his business.

    What can’t be understood is: work contracts his business already have signed, which could not afford any financial burden.

    Where was the ORLB on this issue?

    If the company showed financial evidence at the ORLB couldn’t afforded at that time, I believe should be given a chance in the new upcoming work contracts.
    The matter seems a malicious financial prejudice, not in fair matter.

    I closed my electrical business long ago, not union issue, was a none union business, was because of the ECRA bullshit.

    The Liberal government so far have been doing a great job, destroying small business and trades people lives across this Province. Creating parasitic agencies, and passing insane and none sense laws doing more damage the good.

    When these people at the queens park start to wake up for the reality of the damage they inflicted on us trades people?

    It looks like the Liberal party was high-jacked with in, by some which should never be there in first place.

  7. Dan Adams says:

    We supposedly live in a democracy, but there is nothing democratic about the IBEW and it’s tactics. The liberals and the IBEW are on a course to destroy this trade. Most of the damage is done. There are very few good industry electricians left. We are heavy industry and can’t get skilled help as electricians are to pampered these days.

  8. Alec Caldwell says:

    Thanks everyone for your responses and whats been said here comes from all your experiences and who can argue against that…..well then again union dudes wearing rose coloured glasses….eh!

    It would have been good to find out who was the mole(s) in the 2 guys who voted YES. Who was the one approached by the union to set this whole take down. They had to know only 3 guys were working on the day….right?

  9. Peter says:

    The IBEW tactics for duping potential members should be regarded as deceitful & should be reviewed by an impartial labour investigation.

    Where employees are being treated unfairly will likely show other examples of fraud & lack of integrity on the part of the business owner. This is an opportunity for the labour laws to be enforced – not an opportunity for a union to get involved & turn otherwise well run companies into disasters like Lorne’s Electric.

    If the 2 employees who were duped by the union had valid complaints against the company why wasn’t the Labour Board asked to intervene??? Why weren’t the other 37 employees mandated to vote??? Obviously, the union was well aware of the fact that most of those 37 guys were likely not unhappy & not really interested in becoming union brothers.

    More likely, they were well aware of their future employment potential.

    Bankruptcy & unemployment are a sad commentary on what happens when fake professionals buy into the union’s mantra of self-entitlement.

    Cheers…

  10. Robert Koci says:

    It has to be said to those whose concern is the employees: If they wanted to, they could simply quit the company, join the union and wait in the hall for all that high paying work.