As July 1 approaches there is yet another potential disruption, this time involving major Canadian West Coast ports, including those of Vancouver and Price Rupert.
The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada labor union have been in labor contract talks which have resulted in a prior 21-day cooling-off period. Up until that point, two mediators appointed by the Canadian federal government had been overseeing contract talks.
The labor union voted earlier this month to conduct a walkout if a contract settlement was not reached by the first of July.
According to local and business media reports including global business broadcasting network CNBC, both sides remain far apart with labor union members claiming that shipping lines have garnered huge profits from the pandemic shipping disruptions. Reportedly, issues relate to wages and inflation’s impact on the current high cost of living, automation and independent contractor work. The labor union has further declined a mediation and arbitration proposal put forward by port operators.
Additional talks were scheduled today in hopes of bringing the parties toward a mutual agreement.
The Port of Vancouver, Canada’s largest port, reportedly accounts for 90 percent of Canadian container movements while 15 percent involves U.S. bound container movements. The port further serves as a major import and export facility for bulk commodities such as coal, iron, sulfur and other bulk materials. At the Port of Price Rupert, two-thirds of container import volumes are routed to U.S. markets via rail.
Readers will recall that the Pacific Maritime Association representing U.S. West Coast ports reached a tentative settlement with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union two weeks ago after 15 months of contract talks, averting a major nationwide transportation and logistics disruption.
Meanwhile, ongoing labor contract talks involving global parcel transportation and logistics services provider UPS and the 340,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters labor union have reportedly reached the critical stage of pay rate negotiations. Here again, union workers have already authorized a walkout if a deal is not reached by the first of August. For the past two years, increased online package demand and subsequent annual rate hikes have boosted UPS’s operating profits by 60 percent over a two year period.
Such is the ongoing period of labor activism involving global transportation and logistics. Labor is actively seeking its share of the toil in movement of essential goods and in share of the profitability garnered.
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