The ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert – notably the largest and third-largest ports in Canada – are at the center of an ongoing strike that began July 1st between the Canadian affiliate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).
The ILWU is advocating for the expansion of its jurisdiction, as well as higher pay. This was emphasized in a statement made yesterday, where they called attention to employers outsourcing maintenance jobs to third-party labor. The employers responded that they have had no choice but to look for help elsewhere due to a shortage of maintenance workers at hiring halls.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working alongside federal mediators to bring the two parties to a consensus. Whether these efforts will lead to a solidified deal between the union and employers remains to be seen.
It is possible that US business groups may also become involved, as shippers in the United States utilize both Canadian ports through connecting rail networks. Still, US shippers have more routing options than Canadian shippers. As noted in one article: “The International Longshoremen’s Association, which represents longshore workers on the US Gulf and East Coasts, has already pledged to not handle any diverted cargo from Vancouver and Prince Rupert.”
We will continue with updates as more information becomes available.