Canada’s west coast dockworkers will walk off the job this weekend after issuing a 72-hour strike notice. The strike by more than 7,000 unionized dockworkers, which will begin at 8:00 a.m. PT on July 1, will affect cargo flows at more than 30 ports in British Columbia, including Vancouver – the country’s largest port — and Prince Rupert.
Impact to U.S. Trade Expected
U.S. trade flows may also be affected by the industrial action. Approximately 15% of container trade moving through the Port of Vancouver is destined to or from the U.S., while two-thirds of laden imports arriving at Prince Rupert are transported via rail to U.S. destinations.
While many shippers have already diverted volume to U.S. West Coast ports ahead of the strike, a prolonged action would likely result in more diversions to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts, leading to longer vessel queues and schedule disruptions.
Negotiations Reached the Tipping Point
Earlier this month, members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada voted by an overwhelming 99.25% to authorize a strike action after federally mandated mediation with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) broke down.
While BCMEA maintains it has made multiple good faith proposals, ILWU Canada said in a statement posted on Wednesday, “Unfortunately, the ILWU Canada Bargaining Committee has run out options at the bargaining table because the BCMEA and their member employers have refused to negotiate on the main issues, and we feel we are left with no choice but to take the next step in the process.” The major sticking points include:
- stopping the erosion of our work through contracting out work to non-union labor;
- protecting current and future generations from the devastating impacts of port automation; and
- protecting longshore workers from record high inflation and sky rocketing cost of living
Both ILWU Canada and BCMEA have expressed a desire to the end the dispute. Negotiations are expected to resume today with assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.