GTA Construction Report staff writer
There’s no love lost between two major construction trade unions in the GTA, but it is unclear who is responsible for the violent beating last December in Vaughan of Durval Terceira, an elected trustee and union representative with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.
Terceira had been the business manager of local 183 of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) before he lost his post in a close 2011 election, the Toronto Star has reported. “He subsequently joined the Carpenters where he is a vocal critic of his old union,” the newspaper said in a Feb. 3 investigative article. “Terceira currently has a lawsuit against his former union over severance pay and is named in several other lawsuits involving the two groups.”
The newspaper quoted John Evans, the lawyer representing LiUNA Local 183, as saying any connection to his union in the Terceira attack is “pure fiction and nonsense.”
“Any troubles which have befallen Mr. Terceira of the nature you suggest were not at all at the direction or behest of Local 183. While he is a litigation distraction to our cause and movement, we do not wish him physical harm. Local 183 does not condone, support or encourage the use of violence.”
Terceira reported to police that two men brandishing aluminum baseball bats attacked him in his home driveway on Dec. 11, The Star reported. He experienced serious injuries, and has been rushed back to hospital three times because of complications from the attack, the newspaper reported.
“I thought I was going to die,” The Star reported Terceira as saying. “I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack. The blood clot has travelled to my left lung now, with more serious issues. I have to be on medication blood thinner.”
LIUNA’s Evans in the newspaper interview that the Carpenters are “arch rivals” and “our representative lawyers and law firms are the real beneficiaries of the animosity that exists between our two organizations. That, regrettably, is the world we operate in.”
The dispute between the two unions has flared in contentious arguments about scope of work and compulsory certification issues at the Ontario College of Trades, a provincial regulatory body formed largely because of Carpenters Union lobbying. Tony Dean is reviewing these issues.
Tensions will also likely flare again during the current “open period” which commenced in February, when union can mount raids and seek to change members’ affiliations.
Under provincial labour law, unions can seek to shift certifications (and employees can ask to be decertified) during a brief, three-month period at the end of the mandatory three-year collective agreement process. While there is little concern about overall labour strife once the province-wide contracts expire, it is unclear how much raiding or inter-union conflict will flare during the current open period.
The Daily Commercial News (DCN) reported during the 2013 raiding/open period that then-Carpenters District Council executive secretary treasurer Ucal Powell “is on the offensive and isn’t pulling any punches.
“If they want to start a war, we’re gonna to see it through. We are not going to roll over and play dead.”
Separately, Powell lobbied to form the OCOT, and currently serves on the organization’s board of directors.
“The bitterness and acrimony (between the Carpenters and LiUNA) is palpable,” DCN reported. “Powell accuses LiUNA of reneging on ‘peace treaties’ made in 1991, 1995 and again in 2007,” DCN reported in 2013. “Further, he says LiUNA not only didn’t honour the treaties, it refused to release some of its members to rejoin the Carpenters’ after Powell’s locals had turned back members to LIUNA.”
The Star quoted a veteran construction executive as saying the Terceira beating incident in December is “perplexing.”
“Whether someone is definitely sending a message, we don’t know,” the executive told The Star, recalling another incident about 15 years ago that also involved a former Local 183 business manager.
“John Stefanini, who had retired as business manager in 1992 and subsequently ran an alliance of construction unions, suffered a broken arm and a serious head gash when attackers used metal bars to beat him up outside the association’s offices near Steeles Ave. and Weston Rd. in early 1999,” the Star reported. “The attackers only yelled the word ‘rat’ at him.”
“The case was never solved,” The Star story concluded.