The P3 Files - Privatization, Profit and Porkchopping
Unionism As Business - Are The Labour Bosses Becoming Bosses?
By Will Offley
May 13, 2004
"It's just the old tired attitude that if you believe in labour or social democracy, you have to be against capital and profits. We can use pension income to create jobs, union jobs, that pay a fair rate and get a fair return. We can make a profit...but...without exploiting people." Canadian Labour Congress President (and Concert Properties Director) Ken Georgetti, quoted in "The Hard-Hat Capitalists", Vancouver Sun, Valerie Casselton, May 14, 1988, pp. D10-12.
Concert Properties is a big business. Between 1989 and 1999 it built 80% of the rental housing constructed in Vancouver. With an asset base of $450 million in 2000, it's now the largest developer of rental housing in Western Canada; not bad for an enterprise completely controlled by the labour movement. Concert, and its companion enterprise Concert Real Estate Inc., constitute one of the more visible examples of "worker capitalism", a phenomenon that had its inception in the 1980's and is now flourishing across Canada.(1)
Concert Properties was created in the late 1980's largely at the instigation of the then-president of the Telecommunication Workers' Union, Bill Clark. Clark spearheaded a process that led to twenty union pension plans pooling $30 million of their own funds to provide the initial capitalization to get the company up and running.
Throughout its existence, Concert has been completely controlled by the trade union bureaucracy and its current board of directors continues that tradition. Of 17 directors, 12 are current or retired union full-timers:
- Ken Georgetti (President, Canadian Labour Congress)
- Jack Allard (retired Secretary-Treasurer, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1518)
- Nancy Curley (Alternate Business Agent, TWU)
- Gerry Forcier (Trustee, Pipefitters Local 170 Pension Plan)
- Dave Haggard (President, IWA-Canada)
- Leif Hansen (retired Vice-President and Director of Pperations, UFCW Local 247) áRod Hiebert (President, TWU)
- Don McGill (Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 213)
- Charles Peck (Chair, Health and Welfare Pension Plan, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 213)
- David Schaub (National Representative, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union)
Randy Smith (President, Carpenters Union Local 1995)
- Anthony Tennessy (retired President, Operating Engineers Local 115)
- Bryan Wall (Consultant, UFCW Pension Plan) (2)
As is obvious from the above, this gives the labour bureaucracy voting control over Concert Properties, which leads to two very uncomfortable questions:
Why is Concert Properties a member of Canada's largest and most powerful P3 lobby groups, the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships?
Why did Concert Properties donate more than $16,000 to the Liberal Party of British Columbia last year?