Where it all began
The General Contractors’ Association of Toronto has a long and established history of collective bargaining, originally as a part of the venerable Toronto Construction Association (“TCA”). As far back as the 1920`s, there are records of contractors within the TCA negotiating with Building Trade Unions as a group. However, agreements concluded by the group were signed by each individual contractor on a voluntary basis. Following World War II Building Trade Unions were successful in a major expansion of the number of companies under collective agreement and for the first time the then Toronto Builders Exchange hired a full time Director of Labour Relations to co-ordinate the efforts of member companies in their negotiations and to act as chief spokesman.
Those negotiations were always limited to the so-called civil trades (Carpenters, Labourers, Bricklayers, Operating Engineers, Cement Masons and Rod workers). In the same period Mechanical, Electrical and Sheetmetal contractors established separate trade associations to represent the particular interest of their members including the negotiation of agreements with the United Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Sheetmetal Union.
When GCAT Became Established
In the 1960`s the predecessor to GCAT, the General Contractors` Section was established as a separately supervised and funded Section of the TCA to represent the interests of Contractors under agreement with one or more of the six civil trades. Subsequently in 1970 the Labour Relations Act of Ontario was amended to allow employer associations to obtain the sole right to bargain on behalf of employers bound by a particular Building Trade Union Agreement. This was enabling legislation and did not require industry wide bargaining. The General Contractors` Section with the support of contractors bound by five agreements became the only accredited employer association for the negotiation of one agreement in each of five trades–Carpenters, Labourers, Operating Engineers, Cement Masons and Rodworkers covering the Greater Toronto Area. By agreement, the Ontario Masonry Contractors Association with input from the General Contractors became the bargaining agent for Masonry employers.
In 2014, the Section independently incorporated from the TCA to formally become the General Contractors’ Section, Toronto. The original name paid homage to the origins of the “Section” by maintaining the divisional reference. Following 6 years under the new name, the Board of Directors determined that a new and independent name would better serve the interests of its membership and promote the independent voice of the organization. The General Contractors’ Association of Toronto was born.