How the OCOT selects compulsory certification review panels

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Construction Divisional Board and OLRB decide from Roster of Adjudicators

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

The decision about whether general carpentry becomes a compulsory certified trade will be influenced behind the scenes in the selection process for a three-person Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) adjudication review panel – a process which largely will depend on the decisions of employer and employee representatives at the OCOT’s Construction Divisional Board, possibly as early as May 13.

OCOT spokesperson Tyler Charlebois said “the divisional board, once the trade board has requested a trade classification review, selects two non-chair members from the roster of adjudicators to sit on the review panel with the chair (a vice-chair from the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).”

“They select one panel members who has employer experience and one with employee experience and two alternates in case either of their initial selections decline or have a conflict (again one employer and one employee.)”

An individual familiar with the OCOT general carpentry trade board has told Ottawa Construction News that employee representatives waited until the chair of the eight-member trade board was an employer before putting forward the compulsory certification review request in February.  As the chair can only vote in a tie situation, this meant the decision to proceed with the compulsory certification request passed by a four to three vote.

The construction divisional board currently has five members, and at present is dominated by employee representatives.

James Barry, the divisional board chair (and a member of the OCOT’s board of governors, is business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 586, in Ottawa. Employer members are Michael Battye (Aecon Construction) and Denis Bigioni (Dagmar Construction).  The employee representatives are Kevin Bryenton (Ironworkers) and Joe Dowdall (Union of Operating Engineers), according to the Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA)’s Housing Issues Status Report – Fall 2012.

Based on this make-up, the if the adjudicators are selected by a voting process, the divisional board would likely rule with a pro-union slant if there originally is a tied vote, with the union-supporting chair (Barry) breaking the tie.  Charlebois says trade boards do not need to use a voting system to select the adjudicators, but they have brief biographical information about the identities and backgrounds of the roster of adjudicators members and so would be able to determine their backgrounds and potential biases in the selection process.

The roster of adjudicators includes a diversity of union and employer representatives, including some that represent the interests of non-union contractors.  The Ministry of Labour, citing privacy concerns, would not provide detailed background information about the potential adjudicators, but the selection process and results from apprenticeship ratio reviews and the first compulsory certification review – for sprinkler installers – suggests the adjudication selection process will be have great significance in determining the outcome of the certification adjudication.

The next construction divisional board meeting has been scheduled for May 13.  “The agenda for that meeting has not been finalized,” said Charlebois.  The decisions made at the divisional board are final – the overall OCOT board will not change them, he said.

Meanwhile, the adjudication panel chair will be selected by the OLRB’s deputy registrar.

“We have a roster of vice-chairs at the labour board, appointed because of their expertise inc construction, and it is based on their availability, based on (other) sittings on the labour board, and the college’s needs” that the adjudication panel chair will be chosen, said OLRB solicitor Voy Stelmaszynski.

Earlier adjudication review decisions have largely been shaped by the ideological bias of review panel members, though the balance of power ultimately will be with the review panel chair, selected by the OLRB, and so the decision about whether carpentry will be a compulsory certified trade may rest in the OLRB’s deputy registrar – and the values, biases and background of the person chosen to chair the review panel.

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