No Strike Action Yet at B.C.’s West Coast Ports (Labour Update #6)

coracle Featured, News

Vancouver and Prince Rupert, BC

Both sides (ILWU and BCMEA) are eligible to issue 72-hour strike notice, as the cooling off period expired June 20. Even though ILWU members voted almost unanimously in favour of strike action, it seems like neither side is eager to start a strike.

There are two factors contributing to the lack of job action so far:

  1. The tentative agreement reached for the U.S. West Coast ports last week
  2. Reduced shipping demand in 2023

With the U.S. West Coast port labour deal, ocean carriers now have readily available alternatives for rerouting transpacific cargo. Neither dockworkers or their employers want to risk temporary diversions away from B.C.’s West Coast becoming permanent, especially when shipping volumes in 2023 have dropped drastically already.

But the very threat of job action has many shippers on high alert and already taking action, with some accelerating priority exports onto vessels, and others diverting import cargo to U.S. Ports.
We will keep you updated as the situation unfolds.

U.S. West Coast Ports (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, etc.)
In the wake of a tentative new deal, there is new Senate legislations that target port union workers. Idaho Republican Senator Jim Risch is introducing a bill that would designate labour slowdowns like the recent slowdowns at U.S. West Coast ports as “unfair labour practices” with serious financial penalties. Senate Republicans had previously introduced similar legislations in prior years without success.

1. Contract negotiations enter critical stage for B.C. port workers, maritime employers, Business in Vancouver, June 21, 2023. Accessed June 26, 2023.
2. Striking dock unions should pay $2 billion a day, say Republican senators, The Load Star, June 23, 2023. Accessed June 26, 2023.
3. New Senate legislation seeks to revise national labor law, targeting port union workers, CNBC, June 22, 2023. Accessed June 26, 2023.