- THE MAGAZINE
Striking truckers at Port Metro Vancouver, the busiest port in Canada, have caused port delays since the work stoppage began on Feb. 26, 2014. Over the weekend, unionized container truck drivers at the port voted to join their non-unionized counterparts in the labor action. Saturday, Mar. 1, 2014, marked the beginning of the 72-hour notice required for the unionized truckers to strike.
The United Truckers Association (UTA), representing more than 1,000 owner operators, initiated the strike demanding some resolution to the port congestion resulting in long delays at the marine terminals. Congestion problems have been a problem for the port on and off over the years, including a 47-day truckers strike in 2005. Unionized truckers are also requesting the reappointment of a government mediator to help find a solution.
Looming Labor Negotiations Cause West Coast Worries
The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents U.S. West Coast port workers, expires July 1st of this year. Some trade officials speculate a work stoppage is inevitable citing ILWU angst over job security and health benefits. With rumors already brewing, shippers are expressing concerns about possible U.S. West Coast port disruptions and, therefore, are creating contingency plans. Alternate routing may include east coast shipments through the Panama Canal or utilizing Western Canadian ports but shippers hope a strike will be avoided.
Deringer will provide information on the west coast labor negotiations over the next few months. However, as the current contract expiration nears, shippers should plan accordingly with increased inventory, as well as considering alternate routing plans.