Independent of averted Vancouver strike, ILWU contract talks proceed

Independent of averted Vancouver strike, ILWU contract talks proceed

Port of Prince Rupert.

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada locals have been negotiating since February on a new agreement to replace the eight-year contract that was set to expire on March 31. (Above: A container ship approaches the port of Prince Rupert, Canada.) Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

An averted strike threat last week at the port of Vancouver has refocused shippers’ attention to separate negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada and waterfront employers in British Columbia involving longshore and foreman locals.

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and the ILWU Canada locals have been negotiating since February on a new agreement to replace the eight-year contract that was set to expire on March 31. Negotiations have not affected cargo handling at British Columbia ports, including Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

“It’s business as usual,” BCMEA spokesperson Lauren Chan said Monday. “Both sides continue working toward an agreement,” she said. The contract negotiations cover ILWU Canada’s longshore locals 500, 502, 505, 508, and 519, and the ship and dock foreman Local 514, at Canada’s Pacific Coast ports, including Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

On Thursday Global Container Terminals (GCT) Canada and ILWU Canada Local 502 reached a tentative, five-year contract as a strike threat loomed for Friday. The negotiations had been under way for 15 months between GCT Canada, which operates the Deltaport and Vanterm terminals in Vancouver, and ILWU Canada’s planners and planning assistants. Federal mediators assisted in the negotiations.  

Longshore, foreman locals separate from GCT Canada contract

Chan said the contracts involving the longshore and foreman locals are separate from the GCT Canada contract with the planners and planning assistants. Neither the employers nor the union are saying what contract terms are being negotiated, other than to say these are “normal contract issues,” Chan said.

Robert Ashton, spokesperson for the ILWU Canada longshore division, said the two sides have been meeting on and off since February. The goal is to reach an agreement “the sooner the better,” he said.

ILWU Canada is autonomous from the ILWU international. Its contracts are separate from the ILWU contract with the Pacific Maritime Association that covers ports on the US West Coast. The Canadian union has avoided the high-profile labor disruptions that marked the ILWU-PMA contract negotiations of 2002 and 2014-2015. Historically, the major labor event on Canada’s Pacific Coast was the 1935 Battle of Ballantyne involving a predecessor union that represented dock workers. ILWU Canada has represented longshoremen and other workers since 1948.

Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bill.mongelluzzo@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @billmongelluzzo.