The Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario was founded in 1948 to serve and represent the interests of the electrical contracting industry. Over its history, ECAO has been committed to addressing the needs of the industry by providing a variety of services directly to the membership, and by making representations on behalf of the entire industry to government and industry colleagues. Its success has been due to the support and active participation of the industry.
The ECAO membership consists of bona fide electrical contractors with a contractual relationship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Contractors that qualify may have their dues paid through an area Electrical Contractors Association (ECA). There are presently 11 Area ECA's which are affiliated with ECAO. Industry product and service suppliers may join as Affiliate Partners and are listed on the Affiliate Partners Directory. Information on membership in ECAO can be found on the Membership page of this website.
What We Do
In order to pursue the interests of electrical contractors with industry colleagues, ECAO is a member of the following groups:
Canadian Electrical Contractors Association
Ontario Joint Standard Practices Committee
Construction Bid Depository of Ontario
On matters of national concern to electrical contractors, ECAO works with the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA). CECA has representation on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Standards Association, plus the Part I and Part II of Committees of the Canadian Electrical Code. CECA is also a member of the Canadian Construction Association and is an active member of its Trade Contractors Council. CECA is the first international chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) in the US. Through this affiliation, ECAO members have access to NECA publications and materials.
ECAO is also actively involved in the development of standard practices that are in the best interests of electrical contractors. It is a member of the Ontario Joint Standard Practices Committee, which provides a forum for electrical, mechanical, general and steel contractors, plus architects, engineers and specification writers, to achieve equitable solutions to problems facing various segments of the industry. Over the years, it has produced a number of agreed items.
ECAO also supports the use of Standard Depository Rules in order to protect the sanctity of bids, and is an active member of the Construction Bid Depository of Ontario.
ECAO advocates the interests of electrical contractors to government through the following groups:
- Council of Ontario Construction Associations
- Provincial Advisory Committee for the Construction and Maintenance Electrician
- Electrical Contractor Registration Agency (ECRA) for Master Electrician and Electrical Contractor Licensing.
ECAO is a founding member of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA) formed to act as a lobby group on behalf of the entire construction industry to the provincial government. On issues such as workers' compensation and occupational health and safety, ECAO actively works through COCA to represent the interests of electrical contractors.
Throughout its history, ECAO has been involved in the certification of electricians and licensing of contractors. Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship and Tradesmen Qualification Act in 1965, ECAO has represented management on the Provincial Advisory Committee, which advises the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).
Through the Electrical Contractor Registration Agency, ECAO is a strong advocate of the licensing of electrical contractors on the basis of passing a master electrician examination. ECRA, now an agency of the Electrical Safety Authority, licenses master electricians and electrical contractors. It also creates the master electrician examination.
The responsibility for all labour relations matters rests exclusively with the Electrical Trade Bargaining Agency (ETBA). The ETBA represents and acts as the legal representative of the ECAO in all matters relevant to labour negotiations in the Province of Ontario with those Construction Unions of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that are chartered to represent Electricians, Linemen, Network Cabling Specialists or Communication Cable Installers (the “IBEW Construction Unions”). The ETBA is comprised of volunteer representatives from each area ECA, the ECA Line, and ECAO’s Communications (Green Pages) committee.
Provincial Bargaining Overview
The government introduced legislation in 1977 to provide for province-wide bargaining in the industrial, commercial, and institutional ("ICI") sector of the construction industry. The legislation called for an employee bargaining agency to be established for groups of bargaining agents affiliated to the same trade union (in this case the IBEW CCO). And, for each employee bargaining agency, there needed to be established a matching employer bargaining agency (in this case the ECAO, which is also referred-to as the Employer Trade Bargaining Agent or ETBA).
From the time of the first negotiations following legislative change until 1990, the IBEW CCO and ECAO negotiating history was as follows:
- - 1978, the first round of bargaining by the designated ICI Bargaining Agents, the ETBA and the IBEW settled for two (2) years on a differential basis without a strike.
- - 1980 round of bargaining also was resolved without a strike.
- - 1982 round of bargaining saw negotiations break down when the IBEW CCO went on strike; a strike that lasted approximately one (1) week.
- - 1984 the parties settled without a strike.
- - 1986 saw another strike, this time it lasted approximately two and a half (2 1/2) weeks.
- - 1988 was also a strike. The strike lasted for roughly three (3) weeks.
- 1990 saw the third (3rd) consecutive strike, and it lasted approximately eight (8) weeks. In fact, this strike required Minister of Labour intervention for resolution.
As a result of the above-referenced bargaining history, and the recognition of the detrimental effects of the way the collective agreement was being negotiated, the ETBA and IBEW CCO committed to design a new system, which became known as the Joint Proposal. The Joint Proposal has been negotiated prior to collective bargaining since 1992.
For more information on the history of provincial bargaining, please read this article.
For more information on the history of ETBA/IBEW bargaining, please read these articles:
ECAO makes available a variety of products and services, including courses, publications and access to group purchase plans (to its members only). For more information about these member services, contact ECAO or consult the Member Services section of the ECAO website.