Canada Nears Deal to End Port Strike, Labor Minister Says

Excerpted from Reuters.com, July 12, 2023, 5:34 AM

A bargaining agreement will soon be within reach to end a dispute between striking Canadian dock workers and their employers, Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan said on Tuesday.

About 7,500 port workers have been on strike since July 1 to press for higher wages, disrupting operations at the key ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, at a cost to trade estimated by an industry body to run into $377 million each day.

“As a result of the hard work by the parties at the bargaining table, there is a good deal within reach – one that would work for both the employer and the union,” O’Regan said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The talks between the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU Canada) had resumed last week after a gap of four days, supported by federal mediators.

The differences between the employers and unions were not sufficient to justify continued stoppage of work, O’Regan said, adding that he had asked the senior federal mediator for a written recommendation of the settlement terms within 24 hours.

Upon receiving them, he will send them to the parties, with a deadline of 24 hours to decide on ratification, he added.

The ports play a crucial role in export of Canada’s natural resources and commodities, besides receiving shipments of raw materials.

The strike is disrupting trade worth C$500 million ($377 million) each day, industry body the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CM&E) has said. Economists warn that could lead to supply-chain disruptions, fueling inflation.

B.C. port strike Day 10: Talks resume as economic cost from stoppage rises

By Aaron D’Andrea, excerpted from GlobalNews.ca.

Posted July 10, 2023, 11:45 am. Updated July 10, 2023, 9:34 pm

A port strike in British Columbia that is estimated to be costing the Canadian economy at least $500 million a day entered its 10th day Monday with no signs of ending soon.

Roughly 7,400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) employed at more than 30 ports in the province have been on strike since Canada Day.

Talks between the union and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) resumed on Saturday after breaking down earlier in the week. Ottawa and provincial governments had urged both sides to restart talks.

Canadian port strike talks resume, supported by federal mediators

Excerpted from Reuters.com July 9, 20238:44 PM EDT

Talks in Pacific Canada between striking dock workers and their employers have resumed after four days away from the negotiation table, a statement on Saturday by the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) showed.

The BCMEA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU Canada) met on Saturday, supported by federal mediators, the statement said. The talks had stalled on Tuesday and the two sides broke off negotiations.

Some 7,500 port workers went on strike on July 1 for higher wages, upending operations at the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert – key gateways for exporting the country’s natural resources and commodities as well as for bringing in raw materials.

Canada’s federal and provincial governments had urged the parties to restart talks, while on Saturday Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in a statement said her province supports an immediate recall of parliament to consider legislation to resolve the work stoppage.

U.S. apparel trade group calls to recall Canadian Parliament as ports strike enters 10th day

Excerpted from CNBC.COM, Published Mon, Jul 10 20233:22 PM EDT Updated Mon, Jul 10 20235:06 PM EDT Lori Ann larocco@loriannlarocco

  • A workers’ strike at West Coast Canadian ports enters its 10th day.
  • It could take three to five days for every day the strike lasts for networks and supply chains to recover, according to an estimate from the Railway Association of Canada.
  • Meanwhile, more vessels are diverting away from Canadian ports for American alternatives.

As a workers’ strike at West Coast Canadian ports enters its 10th day, trade associations both in the U.S. and Canada are warning the effect will inflate prices and cause weeks of delays in product arrivals.

ILWU in Western Canada on Strike; Said to Resume Talks Monday

West Coast port workers in Canada officially begin strike

EXCERPTED FROM CNBC.COM, PUBLISHED SAT, JUL 1 20234:39 PM EDT, BY ALEX HARRING/LORI ANN LAROCCO

KEY POINTS

  • A union representing port workers in Western Canada officially began striking, an action that could have ripple effects reaching beyond the U.S.’s northern neighbor.
  • More than 99% of members of the union, who support West Coast ports such as Vancouver and Prince Rupert, voted to approve the strike last month.
  • Notice of the strike came Wednesday.

A union representing port workers in Western Canada officially began striking, an action that could have ripple effects reaching beyond the U.S.’s northern neighbor.

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada’s Longshore Division announced its labor strike began in a Saturday Facebook post signed by union president Rob Ashton. More than 99% of members of the union, who support West Coast ports such as Vancouver and Prince Rupert, voted to approve the strike last month. Notice of the strike came Wednesday.

“The ILWU Canada Longshore Division has not taken this decision lightly, but for the future of our workforce we had to take this step,” Ashton said in the post. “We are still hopeful a settlement will be reached through FREE Collective Bargaining!”

The two parties are at odds over issues including automation, the use of contract work and the cost of living for workers. Two mediators appointed by the Canadian government oversaw discussions that ran through the end of May. Those discussions were followed by a so-called cooling-off period between the two groups.

A strike in the western ports occurring around holidays in both the U.S. and Canada could result in impacts on the American economy, industry followers say. The Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert are popular destinations for U.S. trade because these ports are among the major ports of call for goods arriving from Asia. Some logistics managers have told CNBC that rail service out of those ports is a lot faster than going through the port of Seattle or Tacoma.

The strike could lead to congestion in these ports with longshoremen unable to unload vessels. Congestion can turn into backlogs and lead to delayed pickups from terminals, which can then lead to late fees that are often passed on to consumers — a situation similar to what occurred during the pandemic.

Western Canada dock workers to resume talks Monday as strike enters third day

Excerpted from Reuters.com, by Chris Helgren, July 2, 202310:43 PM EDT

DELTA, British Columbia, July 2 (Reuters) – Dock workers at Canada’s western Pacific coast will resume talks on Monday to try and end their first strike in three decades, as a union leader urged on Sunday the federal government to stay out of the negotiations.

Some 7,500 dock workers representing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) went on strike Saturday after negotiations with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) failed to reach a settlement.

The strike threatens to disrupt work at two of Canada’s busiest ports, the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert, the country’s No. 1 and No. 3 by turnover. They are the key gateways to export the country’s natural resources and commodities and bringing in raw materials.

More than C$800 million ($604 million) worth of goods make their way through the western ports each day, accounting for about a quarter of Canada’s total traded goods flow.

“The federal government must stay out of our business,” Rob Ashton, president of ILWU Canada, told reporters on Sunday. “If the BCMEA gets their way, and their way is to let the (federal) government make the collective agreement for them, there will never be labor peace on the waterfront,” he added.

After 33 consecutive hours of negotiations, the talks between the two parties “temporarily” paused on Sunday evening, and the talks would resume on Monday, the union said in a statement.

The walkout could have serious consequences for Canada’s economy and small businesses, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said on Saturday. A prolonged strike would further fuel price pressures, just as the Bank of Canada has resumed its interest rate hike campaign to bring inflation back to its 2% range.

The union is seeking a deal to protect workers jobs and recognition for the sacrifices the staff made during the pandemic. Their main demands also include stopping outsourcing of work and to limit the impact of port automation on current and future generations of workers.

Canadian Longshore Workers Plan Strike at British Columbia Ports

Excerpted from gCaptain.com, Mike Schuler, June 28, 2023

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) has received a formal, written 72-hour strike notice from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada as collective bargaining negotiations between the two sides have reached an impasse.

The strike notice pertains to the expired ILWU Canada Longshore Local collective agreement with the BCMEA.

The strike is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2023, at 8:00 am PT in British Columbia.

The two sides have been unable to reach an agreement since the expiration of the previous agreements on March 31, 2023.

The negotiations involve two coastwide collective agreements, one with the Longshore Locals and another with Local 514 Ship & Dock Foremen, representing over 7,400 longshore workers and foremen at Canada’s West Coast ports. These agreements cover various aspects such as wages, benefits, hours of work, and employment conditions.

The BCMEA represents 49 private sector waterfront employers and operators in British Columbia.

In response to strike notice, Canada’s Minister of Labor, the Honorable Seamus O’Regan, and Minister of Transport, the Honorable Omar Alghabra, issued a joint statement emphasizing the importance of reaching an agreement through the bargaining process.

“We strongly encourage the parties to get back to the bargaining table and work together to reach an agreement. That is what matters most right now,” the joint statement said.

The potential strike action has raised concerns about its impact on Canadian supply chains and the movement of goods both domestically and internationally. However, employees responsible for servicing grain vessels, as well as cruise vessels, are expected to be exempt from the strike.

Since March 28, 2023, the BCMEA and ILWU Canada have been engaged in conciliation and mediation efforts, following a notice of dispute filed by ILWU Canada.

The BCMEA maintains it has made multiple proposals in good faith and is aiming to make progress towards achieving a fair agreement. Despite the strike notice, the BCMEA says it is willing to continue negotiations through a federal mediation process in order to find a balanced deal that ensures the stability of ports and the uninterrupted flow of goods for Canadians.

ILWU Canada, on the other hand, says it is seeking a fair deal that achieves its objectives, which include preventing the erosion of work through contracting out, safeguarding longshore workers from the impacts of port automation, and protecting them from the effects of high inflation and rising costs of living. The union emphasized the contributions of longshore workers during the pandemic and expressed disappointment with the BCMEA’s demands for concessions.

“BCMEA and their member employers have refused to negotiate on the main issues,” ILWU Canada said in its statement.

The union called on the BCMEA to drop all concessions and engage in genuine negotiations in order to bring an end to the dispute while respecting the rights and conditions of longshore workers.

The latest industrial action comes just a few weeks after the ILWU on the U.S. West Coast reached a tentative agreement with port terminal operators represented by the Pacific Maritime Association on a new labor contract, ending more than a year negotiations that resulted in major impacts on the U.S. container trade.

Rail Car Derailment Likely to Delay Import Containers from Prince Rupert

Excerpted from CBC News · Posted: Jun 26, 2023, 8:55 AM EDT | Last Updated: June 26

23 rail cars derail west of Saskatoon.

No injuries, no dangerous goods reported aboard.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is investigating a train derailment that happened Sunday at Leney, Sask.

Twenty-three cars derailed, but there were no dangerous goods involved and no leaks, fires or injuries reported, according to a statement from CN Rail, the operator of the train.

The derailment happened at about 5 p.m. CST and the cause is under investigation.

Tentative agreement ends worker slowdowns and stoppages that crippled West Coast ports

Excerpted from cnbc.com, published THU, JUN 15 2023 6:20 AM EDT, by Lori Ann LaRocco

KEY POINTS

  • Tentative deal ends 14 days of worker slowdowns and stoppages that crippled port productivity.
  • The six-year tentative agreement covers 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports.
  • No details of the deal’s terms were released.
  • West Coast port congestion will take days to clear out
  • A tentative deal between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was announced Wednesday night, ending 14 days of worker slowdowns and stoppages that crippled port productivity.
  • The new contract is for six years and will cover workers at all 29 West Coast ports. No details of the deal’s terms were released.
  • “We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Willie Adams in a joint statement. “We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”
  • Both sides hailed the assistance from acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su, who CNBC confirmed was in San Francisco since Monday to help guide talks.
  • “This afternoon, the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association reached a tentative agreement covering 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports, demonstrating once again that collective bargaining — though sometimes difficult — works,” Su said in a statement.
  • Slowdowns and key labor not showing up slowed down the California ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. The Port of Seattle’s terminal SSA was forced to release workers early every day last week due to deliberate low worker productivity. The Port of Seattle was also completely closed Saturday.
  • Supply chain fears have been running high from trucking to rails and ocean carriers. Billions of dollars in cargo has been held up off ports, and container congestion and delays have led to longer service and turnaround times.
  • The ports, which are currently running at 70% capacity, will need several days to clear out the containers once a full labor force is back to work.
  • Logistics managers are not out of the woods yet as they wait to see if the ILWU Canada strikes. In a landslide vote, ILWU Canada workers authorized a strike at Canadian West Coast ports as early as June 24.
  • Also, low water levels at the Panama Canal, a key route for East Coast trade, have added costs to transit due to extra container fees imposed by the ocean carriers.

PMA, ILWU Agree to Cooling Off Period

Julie Su, nominee for Labor Secretary, meets with ILWU and PMA, and parties agree to cooling off period and work normally on the West Coast during negotiations.

PMA Accuses ILWU Of Coast-Wide Disruptions of West Coast Ports

Excerpted from AJOT.com, by Stas Margarines Jun 02, 2023

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) says the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) “is staging concerted and disruptive work actions that have effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals” At West Coast Ports on June 2nd.

The Full Statement PMA provided to AJOT reads as follows:

“Today, the ILWUI is staging concerted and disruptive work actions that have effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The union is also staging similar work actions that have shut down or severely impacted terminal operations at the Ports of Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Hueneme.”

ILWU Local 13 representing longshore workers at Los Angeles and Long Beach issued the following rationale:

“On June 2nd, 2023, the rank-and-file members of the Southern California ILWU has taken It upon themselves to voice their displeasure with the ocean carriers’ and terminal operators’ position. However, cargo operations in the ports continue as longshore workers remain on the job to move the nation’s cargo, as they have done valiantly for decades.”

The Local 13 statement explained that the “ocean carriers and terminal operators have thumbed their noses at the work forces’ basic requests, insinuating that the health risks and loss of lives these working people endured during the pandemic did not matter to them and they were expendable in the name of profits. The work forces’ requests are not outlandish: they are basic requests that will ensure that the workforce is treated with dignity and respect that they have fought so hard to earn.”

A source at the Port of Los Angeles told AJOT that the situation was “spotty with the steadies arriving at work but not casuals so that it is a hit and miss situation at marine terminals at Los Angeles and Long Beach this morning.”

Port Of Oakland

Meanwhile at the Port of Oakland, Oakland International Container Terminal, which accounts for two thirds of the port’s volume, reported a work stoppage: “OICT will not be working today 6.2.23 on the first shift. We are not sure, at this time, when normal work will resume. We are not being provided ILWU labor at this time. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.”

Previous Signs Were Positive

Up until this point, there had been positive signs that a labor agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) was imminent after talks have dragged on for almost a year.

In his May media briefing, Eugene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles said: “I believe that we’re on the doorstep of a tentative agreement. Both sides are spending a lot of time at the negotiating table, and I’m optimistic we’ll hear good news soon. A tentative agreement would be a welcome development for customers who have been diverting cargo elsewhere. Resolving this issue will send a clear signal of stability.”

Did The ILWU Overplay Its Hand?

One terminal executive told AJOT that the ILWU may have “overplayed its hand” by not agreeing to a contract last July 2022 when ocean carriers and maritime terminals were flush with cash during the pandemic when freight rates and container volumes were soaring.

The dragging on of negotiations into 2023 means that a wage and benefit package will be far less generous because marine terminals on the West Coast are reporting major drops in volumes that may persist until 2024, the source said.

There have also been concerns expressed that the delay in reaching a contract was motivated by a mistaken focus by some ILWU leaders on dismantling existing automation at terminals and electrification projects that could not be overturned. This has resulted in substantial cargo being diverted away from the West Coast ports and towards East and Gulf Coast ports. In turn this has resulted in a loss of business and longshore work.

California Exporter Goes East

One California agricultural exporter said his company is now utilizing a rail service to ship products to East Coast ports for export. The service bypasses West Coast ports. The exporter blamed the uncertain labor atmosphere created by the ILWU over the last ten years for the decision.

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