Local 514 Bargaining Update: Negotiating for Stability at Canada’s Pacific Gateway

13 May Local 514 Bargaining Update: Negotiating for Stability at Canada’s Pacific Gateway

VANCOUVER, BC – In a continuous effort to uphold the smooth operations of Canada’s Pacific Gateway, the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and its partners strive to negotiate in good faith, emphasizing the crucial role of the over $800 million in cargo managed daily across B.C.’s ports. This commitment is vital for sustaining the economic wellbeing of all Canadians.

This week, negotiations progressed between the BCMEA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 (ILWU Local 514), facilitated by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The BCMEA has put forward several proposals aimed at securing a fair agreement that supports the 730 dedicated forepersons and their families, ensuring that B.C.’s ports continue to be competitive and economical for everyone in Canada.

However, challenges have arisen. The BCMEA has found it necessary to file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board due to what it describes as the union bargaining committee’s unyielding stance during discussions. This action was taken in hopes of a swift resolution.

In a generous move, the BCMEA’s latest offer includes a 19.2% wage increase, potentially boosting the median foreperson salary from $246,323 to $293,617 annually, excluding additional benefits and pensions. The proposal also features a $3,243 average signing bonus and a 16% increase in retirement benefits, bringing the total to $108,750 per worker—above and beyond the standard pension entitlements. If accepted, this agreement would mean that, on average, eligible workers might see a cumulative lump sum of around $15,000, including retroactive pay and signing bonuses.

Despite these efforts, ILWU Local 514 has prolonged negotiations, risking further disruptions to Canada’s supply chain and tarnishing its reputation in global trade. The prolonged strike by ILWU Canada in 2023 led to significant losses, with disrupted and diverted cargo valued at approximately $10.7 billion, much of which has not returned. With potential disruptions expected across rail and eastern ports in May 2024, the ongoing reluctance of ILWU Local 514 to engage in meaningful discussions could severely impact Canada’s global standing and partnerships.

As of 10 May, following a 21-day cooling-off period, both parties now have the legal right to initiate a strike or lockout. However, this can only happen after a formal vote and a 72-hour notice that includes the intended time of action, which must be communicated to the opposing party and the Minister of Labour. To date, no such notice has been issued, and operations at British Columbia’s ports continue without interruption.

The BCMEA remains hopeful that a resolution can be achieved through continued negotiations, with the support of the FMCS, believing firmly that the best agreements are forged at the bargaining table.