The well-publicized discovery of three nooses at Toronto development sites in June made the public aware of some shocking racist behaviour in the construction trades. While an investigation is looking for those responsible, leaders within the industry are taking a stand against backwards thinking among their ranks. Statements from the construction firms involved in the affected job sites have been joined by other voices in the industry, including Carpenters & Allied Workers Local 27, who have issued a five-point "Charter of Inclusive Workplaces & Communities."

Union representatives rally at a Mississauga condo site, image courtesy of Carpenters Union

The charter reads:

Discrimination in all its forms threatens our country’s rich social fabric, including the workplaces of union members and the communities in which we live. Dividing people because of race, religion, ancestry or any other difference that undermines human rights serves only to weaken our unions and our society.

We commit to standing up for the rights and dignity of everyone in order to promote inclusive, just and respectful workplaces and communities

1. Anti-Black and all other forms of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and bigotry have no place in our workplaces or communities.

2. Discrimination and acts of hate against union members and others marginalizes and excludes them from participating fully in our unions, workplaces and their communities.

3. The dignity of every member is essential to a healthy and vibrant union and workplace.

4. We will continue to work with all levels of government, Indigenous peoples, civil society and communities to develop policies, programs and initiatives to reduce and eliminate racism, hate and bigotry.

5. We must work together to nurture inclusive workplaces and strengthen our shared commitment to our shared values of equality, respect, justice, and dignity for all.

The charter closes with an invitation to all workers who experience or observe racist behaviour or racial harassment to immediately contact their union representative, ending with a statement that "Racism is not acceptable – not now, not ever!"

Union representatives rally in Regent Park, image courtesy of Carpenters Union

As well as being posted on the Carpenters Union website, printed copies of the charter are now being posted in offices and job sites. The image below shows Carpenters representative Chris Campbell along with Cristina Selva, Executive Director of the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (CCAT), soon to post the Charter of Inclusive Workplaces on a wall in the CCAT boardroom.

Charter of Inclusive Workplaces in the CCAT boardroom, image courtesy of Carpenters Union

We spoke about the charter with Mike Yorke, President of the Carpenters District Council of Ontario, one of the voices leading the charge on fighting intolerance and hate in the building industry. "For almost 140 years the Carpenters Union in Toronto has been a home for people to come here and make better lives for themselves and their families, we will not tolerate any behaviour that makes anyone feel unsafe on our worksites," said Yorke. "Standing up to racism is always the right thing to do and the fact that we are doing this in collaboration with our employers makes the message stronger!"

* * *

UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.