Container carrier strike averted at Port of Vancouver

Prudential Transportation and Aheer Transportation have avoided strike action that would have added to woes at the Port of Vancouver.

The two container fleets signed on to a pattern agreement, established earlier in the year, that includes drug, dental, health and insurance coverage, as well as higher waiting time payments and daily minimums, Unifor said in a statement.

That agreement was established in August with Harbour Link Transportation.

Unifor container trucks
Two more fleets have signed on to a pattern agreement, avoiding a strike at the Port of Vancouver. (Photo: Unifor)

About 170 drivers threatened to walk off the job as early as Friday if a deal was not reached.

The labor disruption would have been yet another challenge for the Port of Vancouver, where traffic flows have been disrupted by massive flooding in British Columbia.

Data reported by the FourKites platform, for example, found that dwell times for truckload shipments swelled to 645 minutes in November, up 150%, while late loads for truckload shipments in British Columbia were up 2%.

“Fair wages and benefits are the cornerstone of labour peace at Port Metro Vancouver,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias. “Port workers are critical to the economy and have earned a fair collective agreement. A pattern agreement and enforceable government regulation creates a level playing field for employers and minimizes the black market in trucking we’ve seen flourish in the past.”

The union began complaining in 2018 that unlicensed truckers were charging deeply discounted prices to move containers off dock within the Lower Mainland, undercutting fee-paying companies.

In September 2020, the Office of the B.C. Container Trucking Commissioner confirmed a growing two-tier system of work, and noted that 45% of licensed companies were also using non-tagged trucks and swapping chassis to avoid regulated rates. After swapping chassis in parking lots, unlicensed drivers completed trips for around $85 – less than half the regulated price.

About 300 Unifor drivers, roughly 15% of the drivers who serve the Port of Vancouver, are now bound by the same agreement.

“We look forward to working with non-union truckers to help them enjoy all of the employer-paid health benefits made possible by the pattern agreement,” said Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle.

Trucks haul 500,000 containers out of the Port of Vancouver every year, and return just as many.

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