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BCMEA, Vancouver port workers reach tentative settlement

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union ...


VANCOUVER, B.C. — The B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 514 returned to the bargain table last week, a two-day session that resulted in a positive outcome.

 

“The Parties have reached a tentative settlement that will be subject to ratification by their respective memberships,” said Greg Vurdela, vice-president of marketing and information services for BCMEA.

 

Vurdela also announced that ILWU Local 514 has scheduled a meeting for Feb. 24, when the membership will vote on the contract. Otherwise, Vurdela indicated that details of the tentative settlement will be forthcoming, after a discussion of this matter with BCMEA’s customer-members. “Approximate timeline, ratification will be in the next couple of weeks and a public release of details after that,” he added.

 

Negotiations had been ongoing for well over three months, with the introduction of two federal mediators in January, and a subsequent exchange of proposals – with little satisfaction until now.

 

The 450 ship and dock foremen with ILWU have been without a contract since March 31, 2007. The current round of labour negotiations have been centred on issues related to “the total ‘all in’ cost of the Union proposal, which exceeds that of the recent Longshore contract settlement of 11.97% over three years,” said Vurdela.

Unionized truckers who haul freight at the Port of Vancouver are also seeking a new collective agreement, and have been without a contract since Dec. 31. Members of the Vancouver Container Truckers Association/Canadian Auto Workers 2006 (VCTA/CAW 2006) voted unanimously on Dec. 21 to hold a strike vote in late January, but that action has never occurred. Negotiations were held this week, and are ongoing. Union president Paul Johal says he is somewhat optimistic about the proceedings, and said that the parties are “not at an impasse.”

 

“We’re still working on it,” he said, of negotiations that are scheduled for Feb. 26 and 27, as well as March 4, 5 and 6. “We just got through the non-monitory stuff, and we’ll be working on the monitory stuff next week.”

 

The 750 truckers, which are predominantly owner/operators employed by 22 different companies, were calling for a stricter enforcement of established pay rates, as well as a moratorium on new port passes which allow drivers to enter the port. The union has previously had issues with what it refers to as: “undercutting, wait times, and lack of work available as the result of the port issuing too many licenses.”


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