Trade Regulation Updates

2nd Tentative Deal Reached in B.C. Port Strike: Union

July 21, 2023

Union caucus will vote Friday on whether to send tentative deal to membership for ratification

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada says it has reached a tentative deal with the B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) for the second time in a week.

The local union's caucus announced Thursday evening a tentative agreement had been reached on Wednesday, and the contract caucus will vote in an emergency meeting Friday on whether the agreement should be sent to its membership for ratification.

They say if the contract caucus votes in favour tomorrow, the union will call a meeting to present the deal to membership.

There was no mention of a new tentative agreement on the BCMEA's website.

More than 7,400 workers from the ILWU had walked off the job from July 1 until July 13, paralyzing B.C. ports and costing industries billions of dollars.

Employees are striking over issues like port automation, outside contracting and the increasing cost of living.

Thursday's development is the latest in a turbulent week that saw the union voting down a federal mediator's terms, the union issuing but quickly rescinding a new 72-hour strike notice, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convening the federal incident response group.

Prime Minister Trudeau said earlier Thursday the federal government is "dismayed" the first tentative agreement was rejected by the longshore union leadership, calling the decision "unacceptable."

New Deal Likely Similar to Previous One, Experts Say

Richard Johnson, co-founder and partner at Ascent Employment Law, says he expects the deal to be passed by the contract caucus as well as the union's membership.

"Once the federal government came in and started to put pressure on the port workers ... that started to pave the way I think for this to end and for the workers to get back to work," he said.

Johnson says the new deal is likely not very different from the earlier proposed one.

The B.C. port strike is over, but economic impact could last weeks

Professor Emeritus at University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business Mark Thompson also expects the new tentative deal is very similar, if not identical, to the deal that was rejected by the union last week.

"I don't think it's going to be much different," he said. "The context has changed, but maybe the package hasn't changed."

Thompson says if the caucus does pass the agreement, the union's members are very likely to ratify it.

This is an excerpt from the July 20, 2023 edition of the CBC News.