B.C. port workers vote overwhelmingly to strike

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada have voted overwhelmingly to strike against the member companies of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association in the union’s bid to secure a new contract.

The previous eight-year deal between the two sides expired in March 2018. While contract negotiations continued, Locals 502 and 500 of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada held strike votes on May 8 and 9. The results showed 98.4 per cent of the 6,000-member union membership in favour of strike action.

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Any disruption in goods movement through B.C. ports would erode the province’s reputation in the highly competitive global shipping sector for reliability gained during the previous eight-year deal.

Pressure to avoid a shutdown of port terminals in B.C. has also been heightened by the successful negotiation of long-term labour agreements between port employers and maritime employees in the United States.

In July 2017, the U.S. International Longshore and Warehouse Union signed a three-year extension of its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association. The original collective agreement ended a standoff that stalled cargo movement through major West Coast U.S. ports from mid-2014 through early 2015.

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