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BC docker union rejects revised BCMEA offer

The 700 members of the International and Warehouse Union Local 514, representing ship and dock foremen have voted overwhelmingly to reject a revised comprehensive offer from the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).

“In an effort to conclude a negotiated agreement that restores stability, the proposed four-year agreement would have provided all workers with significant gains in wages and benefits, without any employer concessions,” the BCMEA said in a statement.  

At the time of writing, neither Party has issued 72-hour notice of a strike or lockout, nor have there been any labour disruptions. Regular cargo and passenger operations at British Columbia’s ports continue uninterrupted.  

In the interim period, the Canada Industrial Relations Board has scheduled a hearing beginning July 2, 2024, to adjudicate the BCMEA’s complaint filed May 10 against ILWU Local 514’s conduct at the bargaining table. 

Frank Morena, president of the ILWU, Local 514, commented that subject to a “cooling off period” and conducting more strike votes, the union is in a legal position to strike.

He reiterated a primary concern that Dubai Ports World (Canada), put the union on notice in mid-December 2023 that it would introduce automation for the loading and unloading of cargo containers at its rail intermodal yard at Centerm.

“Prior to the introduction of the automation, Dubai World Ports negotiated a manning agreement with ILWU Local 500, but refused to do so directly with Local 514,” Mr. Morena said in the statement. “Following this refusal, the union tabled a manning proposal during collective bargaining with the BCMEA, which continued to refuse to negotiate a meaningful manning proposal. Notwithstanding that, another BCMEA employer, GCT, successfully negotiated a manning agreement with the union years ago when it introduced automation.”

Meanwhile, the negotiations are being monitored anxiously by Canadian business circles who do not want to see a repeat of waterfront labour disruptions that hit BC ports last summer.

(Photo of Centerm terminal at Port of Vancouver)