06/26/2019 UPDATE > Canadian Port Employers Ratify New Contract With The ILWU Canada

Posted on Jun 26


Member of the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) have ratified the new contract with the ILWU Canada, which should keep the labor situation in the Canadian West Coast ports stable for the next 5 years.

BCMEA will now start contract negotiations with Local 514 that represents ship and dock foremen.


ILWU Canada members voted Friday to ratify the new contract agreed upon with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA). The union stated that 77.18% of those voting were in favor of ratifying the contract.

The contract, negotiated on May 30 after an all-night bargaining session and hours after an employer lockout began, now needs to be accepted by the Board of Directors of BCMEA in a meeting today to go into effect.

The new contract would replace an eight-year agreement that had expired on March 31, 2018 and cover 6,500 ILWU members which had been working without a contract for more than a year.


The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and ILWU–Canada have agreed on a tentative contract agreement that will end the lockout of ILWU workers that started earlier today.

Operations in Vancouver and Prince Rupert are set to resume with the 16:30 shift today.

BCMEA said the agreement that will replace the contract that expired in March 2018 and covers about 6,500 ILWU dockworkers in the ports in British Columbia, will “allow all BC ports to be a competitive, efficient and reliable gateway for the benefit of all Canadians.”

The tentative agreement is subject to ratification by members of both organizations.


The pending lock-out in the Canadian West Coast ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert has some carriers divert vessels to ports like Seattle/Tacoma, delaying their port calls in Canada to be able to react to possibly actions by either party that could actually close down the ports.

At this point it is not clear if the BCMEA made good on its lock-out threat, the ILWU Canada states that its members would report to work as usual and that its intention is to keep the ports working.

We’ll advise further updates when they become known.


BCMEA, the organization that negotiates labor contracts for the ports in British Columbia, gave notice today to the ILWU Canada that it plans to lock out ILWU Canada members as of Thursday.

The organization stats that “given the strike action that is occurring in the industry” it can no longer effectively operate the port terminals.

It is unclear at this point if the lockout will only affect Vancouver or also other ports, including Prince Rupert, and what impact this action will have on cargo flow.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation and will advise any developments as soon as they become available.


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada decided against a strike at Vancouver’s Deltaport and Vanterm terminals, and will instead reuse to work overtime at the terminals, with ILWU Canada President Robert Ashton stating that the union remains confident that a “fair deal” will be reached in contract negotiations that have been underway since February 2018.

The union’s main concerns, automation in the terminal operating industry and the impact automation will have on longshore jobs, are major issues in the contract negotiations. The previous eight-year contract covering the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert expired in March 2018.

A strike at these terminals would have been extremely difficult to handle for the port. It is currently operating at 85 percent of capacity, and a strike would have dramatically impacted intermodal rail services throughout Canada and also to Chicago and the Midwest. 

We will monitor the situation and advise updates as they become available.

Should any cargo be impacted by the actions taken by the union your account team will promptly notify you.