BCMEA offer rejected by union representing B.C. dock workers

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 514 has rejected a new offer from the B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) on a revised compensation package.

The BCMEA was advised June 15 that 99 per cent of ILWU local 514 members had voted to reject the industry’s revised comprehensive offer.

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

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.

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

Morena highlighted that a primary concern is that one of the BCMEA’s employers, 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,” 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.”

The union also says it is looking to improve retirement allowances and benefits for all its members.

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) also released a statement, saying B.C. port operations remain stable, and that the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) is preparing to address the BCMEA’s complaint against union conduct.

The BCMEA filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board in May related to contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 (ILWU Local 514).

In its statement, BCMEA said ILWU Local 514 has been protracting negotiations, “putting Canada’s supply chain and our global trade reputation at further risk. When our ports and supply chain are threatened with disruption, cargo is diverted. Canada’s West Coast ports suffered an enormous loss of $10.7 billion in disrupted and diverted cargo during the ILWU Canada’s 2023 strike – much of which has not returned to Canadian ports.”

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