In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer). Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1982. Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.
Some context for this week’s question: A major recession hit North America in late 1981, with interest rates reaching up to 20%. Employment and construction projects were uncertain for many.
Question: What do you think the chances are for a province-wide strike in the construction industry this summer?
*editor’s note: the following men interviewed are all union members
Ken White – Plastering Contractor – Vancouver
The boys are going to vote for a strike and the contractors are going to turn around and lock them out just to show them they still have the power.
No way contractors want to pay out that kind of money. The workers are asking for $7.50 an hour more over the next year.
Bricklayers, electricians, plumbers – I drink beer with them every weekend and they have the same opinion.
Bob Wyer – Plumber – North Vancouver
I honestly don’t think anyone knows. The only reason why they’re taking a strike vote is so they can use it as leverage.
They want to be able to go to the contractors’ association and say, look, we have so many men here who want to go on strike.
What you hear through bar-talk and the grapevine is that there’s a good possibility of a month-long strike.
But who knows for sure? They haven’t even made us an offer yet.
Monte Sandvoss – Project Manager – Vancouver
I think there’s going to be a strike. Working (union) members don’t see reality.
They’re working and look at the economy and it doesn’t mean anything. They think they have good reason to strike. They don’t care – they’re on the gravy train.
I was disappointed when I talked to quite a few of them and found out they wanted to strike.
Bill Agler – Hod Carrier – Vancouver
I don’t think there will be a strike. Everybody I talk to doesn’t want to strike, but then I’m talking to working guys.
It really is hard to say for sure, but as far as I can gather there probably won’t be one since a little more than half the union men are working right now and they don’t want to give that up.
Ben Vos – Labour Foreman
I don’t think it will happen. They might vote in favour of a strike, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll go on strike.
What is does give them is a mandate at the bargaining table.
But I’m doubtful they’ll even get a strike vote. If they do, the contractors might just lock them out.
Al White – Hod Carrier – Vancouver
A lot of guys are out of work now or on unemployment insurance and they’re going to vote for a strike because it won’t make much difference to them.
It’s the ones who are working who would be hurt by a strike, and I’d say they’re in the majority.
It will be a close vote, but I think it probably won’t happen.