The Steen Decision

In the spring of 1993, a group of concerned contractors and employees met in Halifax to discuss a Supreme Court decision called the Steen Decision and the effect this decision could potentially have on the construction industry in Nova Scotia. The Steen Decision had ruled that any general contractor with a bargaining relationship with even one union would be only permitted to hire union subcontractors. As a result of this meeting, an organization was formed to represent open shop contractors and workers in the province who felt they would lose their right to work on construction sites in Nova Scotia and remain union free. This organization was called The Right To Work and was later changed to Merit Contractors Association of Nova Scotia. The Association held meetings throughout the province, gaining support from other contractors and workers with similar interests to carry on their businesses and have access to construction industry jobs.

Association members and workers held demonstrations at the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, worked with government officials and presented their interests to various government agencies. As a result, in 1994 this group was successful in having the John Savage government pass a bill in legislature which reversed the Steen Decision. This allowed unionized general contractors to hire open shop contractors and workers with the same interests to work alongside union workers on the same construction sites.

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