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August 28 2023

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28 Journal of Commerce | A ugust 28, 2023 International Maritime THREE-QUARTERS OF THE longshore rank and file have agreed to a four- year contract at Vancouver and Prince Rupert, bringing labor certainty to western Canada that had eluded the port for more than a month. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada on Aug. 4 announced that 74.66% of its membership voted for the contract, although neither the ILWU Canada nor employers disclosed wage lev- els or how the two sides were able to move past a disagreement over expanding job jurisdiction. "The renewed collective agree- ment includes increases in wages, ben- efits and training that recognizes the skills and efforts of B.C.'s waterfront workforce, while providing certainty and stability for the future of Canada's West Coast ports," the British Colum- bia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) said in an Aug. 4 statement. The agreement capped five weeks of disruption marked by 13 days of strikes, a one-day wildcat strike and the union's rejection of three tenta- tive agreements struck by negotiators. The disruption laid bare the limits the Trudeau government will exercise to push both sides to a deal, despite pleas from the industry and the Brit- ish Columbia ports, contributing to C$800 million (US$594 million) in trade daily, which is equivalent to a quarter of Canada's trade in goods. Canada's ministers of labor and transportation praised the collective bargaining process, although Seamus O'Regan and Juan Pablo Rodriguez, respectively, said they were review- ing how such a prolonged disruption occurred and would look for ways to bring more stability to labor and busi- ness dependent on the ports. "This dispute caused serious dis- ruptions to our supply chains, risking our strong international reputation as a reliable trading partner. We do not want to be back here again," the min- isters said in a joint statement follow- ing the ratification announcement. The last tentative agreement the union rejected would have given dockworkers a compounded wage bump of 19.2%, pushing up median annual compensation to C$136,000 (US$98,100), according to a BCMEA statement. Members of the US ILWU long- shore division must still ratify a tenta- tive agreement, announced June 14, that includes proposed wage increases of 32% over six years. That's far less than the more than 100% increase the union had been demanding prior to the intervention of Acting US Labor Secretary Julie Su. With a contract tentatively reached in Western Canada and the Port of Halifax, Montreal remains the last major container port facing new negotiations to reach a new contract as a federally arbitrated contract expires at the end of the year. The fed- eral government in May 2021 forced both sides to accept a contract after a 19-day series of strikes. JOC email: Riley said that if Charleston is banking on another appeal to pre- vent the union from taking over crane operator jobs — this time in front of the US Supreme Court — the agency must factor in that the courts have also already stated that the "right of control" remains with the carrier and the carrier can con- tinue to redirect their cargo away from Leatherman. As it is, only one vessel will call on Leatherman this month, BBC Uranus, scheduled to arrive Aug. 20. A Supreme Court appeal could also mean another year or more of the ter- minal sitting idle; the court only hears around 1% of cases it receives. Riley said the South Carolina Ports Authority (SC Ports) needs to remember that "they are not the industry," but rather a facilitator of the industry. And right now, the industry is not participating at the Leatherman terminal. "The port wants to dominate South Carolina and these southern states as though they are the direc- tor of the industry, as if, 'Everything must come through us and play by our rules,'" Riley said. "And that's not the way it works." Charles Brave, president of ILA's Local 1422, told the Journal of Com- merce Aug. 7 that Charleston ILA members will be trained to operate cranes at the union's training facility in Baltimore. There is no start date for when training would begin, but Brave said it will happen regardless of whether SC Ports appeals the June ruling. "No matter where and how, whatever the ports do or don't do, we're still going to proceed with cer- tification," said Brave, who leads the union local serving Charleston. JOC email: email: Peace accord ILWU Canada contract ratification ensures BC port labor stability By Mark Szakonyi ILWU Canada's contract ended five weeks of disruption at the ports of Vancouver (pictured) and Prince Rupert. Vadim Gouida / "Whatever the ports do or don't do, we're still going to proceed with certification."

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