We’ve all heard the stories: $143 to attach a $17 pencil sharpener with four screws; $19,000 to put a sign on a school’s front lawn; $3,000 to install an electrical outlet in a school library (and the union billing taxpayers 76 hours to do the work). These crazy, ridiculous examples of waste are all around us. What is your story?
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Stories of Waste
In 2008, out of 260 construction contractors in the City of Hamilton, only 17 had the proper affiliation making them eligible to bid on public work contracts [Hamilton Spectator, “union certification nails city to the walls,” Sep. 7, 2008].
In 2010 Hamilton was forced to disqualify four out of seven bids for a massive wastewater project because most of the bidders did not have a required agreement with the local carpenters’ union [Emma Reilly, “City forced to turn away contractors; only companies employing union carpenters can bid on waterworks project,” Hamilton Spectator, March 31, 2010].
The Hamilton-based Cardus think tank estimates the price inflation resulting from this provincially-enforced union monopoly is 30% [Get rid of Ontario’s closed union shop]. According to Cardus: “There [is] approximately three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of municipal construction work which is unavailable to firms which are non-union or a signatory to alternative unions [Cardus, Construction Competitiveness Monitor].
In the Toronto School Board District, union charges for school fixes included:
- $143 to attach a $17 pencil sharpener with four screws,
- $19,000 to put a sign on a school’s front lawn and
- $3,000 to install an electrical outlet in a school library (the union billion taxpayers 76 hours for the latter
- Not to mention entitlement attitude and unreasonably long delays before much needed construction is completed
- [Jonathan Kay: Two years to fix broken steps? A case study in TDSB trade union woes].
A 2004 City of Montreal report that surfaced during Chabbonneau Inquiry described the city as a closed market when it came to construction and concluded Montreal could save 20 to 30% with a more competitive bidding process [CTV Montreal: Montreal warned years ago about cost overruns, confirms released report].