The Port of Montreal is standing by to handle any cargo that would be diverted if the International Longshoremen’s Association strikes East and Gulf Coast ports at the end of the year.
“There is intention of handling whatever cargo comes this way” in the event of a strike, said Tony Boemi, the port’s vice president of growth and development. “By law, they (Montreal dockworkers) can’t not handle it.”
The ILA and employers represented by United States Maritime Alliance are racing the clock on negotiations for a new contract that expired on Sept. 30, but was extended to Dec. 29.
Although Montreal’s Maritime Employers Association is conducting its own negotiations with ILA locals 375 and 1657 for renewal of the contract that expires on Dec. 31, Boemi said the contract likely would be extended if they don’t reach agreement by year-end.
Negotiations, he said, “are going very well” and there is “absolutely no intention for any work stoppage.”
It’s common for the negotiations to continue beyond the expiration date. The last work stoppage in Montreal, which occurred in July 2010, came after the old contract had expired two years earlier. “In an absolute worst-case scenario, the earliest date there could be a strike is July 2013, so in the short term, there is absolutely no issue with Montreal,” Boemi said.