Merit Ontario leader Walter Pamic joins OCOT board; dismaying union leaders

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Walter Pamic
Walter Pamic

In a sign that the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) is evolving to become a broader-based industry representative organization, one of the leaders of the open shop movement – and an original OCOT opponent – has been selected as its newest board of directors member.

Walter Pamic, a former Progressive Conservative candidate and chairman of the board of the Merit OpenShop Contractors Association of Ontario (Merit Ontario), could hardly be considered an ally of the organized labour leaders who lobbied for the OCOT’s establishment.

And these leaders have expressed dismay that the government has appointed Pamic to work at the organization’s highest governance level.

James Hogarth, president of the Progressive Certified Trades Coalition (PCTC) and Joseph Maloney, representing the Coalition of Non-Compulsory Construction Trades (CNCCTO) wrote in a letter to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn and OCOT chair Don Gosen that Pamic is a “well-known proponent of abolishing the College itself and its system of trade certification.” (Hogarth is also president of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, the umbrella organization representing organized labour within the construction sector.)

In a published report, Pamic, vice-president of Power-Tek Electrical Services Inc. in Ottawa, is quoted as saying: “As humans we are constantly forming opinions. My opinions can change and have changed throughout my life.” Pamic explained that he opposed the OCOT in its early days, when he believed it was unaccountable and count not be voted out, unlike a government.

The PCTC/CNCCTO letter claimed Pamic had been appointed when the OCOT Appointments Council had several vacancies, resulting in a bias towards employers.

Pamic said in the published interview:”You’ve either got to be a part of it and make it better, or you can fight everything out there. I believe there is a great potential with the College of Trades.”

The OCOT is governed by a 21-member Board of Governors appointed by the College of Trades Appointments Council. The board has 16 members from the skilled trades, four members of the public, and one member representing Ontario’s colleges of applied arts and technology.

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