Canada Dockworkers to Vote on New Contract Today

Labor Unrest Has Disrupted Billions in Trade
ILWU Canada
International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers picket in Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 5. (Don Mackinnon/AFP/Getty Images)

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The union representing more than 7,000 dockworkers at two of Canada’s busiest ports is set for a key vote on a new contract today, potentially putting an end to labor unrest that has temporarily disrupted billions of dollars in trade.

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union will hold an emergency contract caucus to decide whether to send the deal to union members for ratification, according to a notice on the website of one of the union locals.

It’s the latest development in an on-again, off-again strike at British Columbia ports that has snarled C$10.7 billion ($8.1 billion) in cargo, according to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and caused headaches for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

Workers who handle goods coming through terminals in Vancouver and Prince Rupert walked off the job on July 1, demanding pay raises and assurances about job security, before a tentative agreement was announced on July 13.

The union caucus then rejected that deal and gave notice on July 19 that workers would go back on strike — before revoking the threat a few hours later, without explanation.

It’s unclear whether the agreement that’s headed for a vote today contains new terms or is the same one agreed upon earlier. Trudeau said on July 20 he believed the union was reconsidering the “good” offer already on the table, a four-year deal that provided a 19% wage increase over four years, according to the BC Maritime Employers Association.

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