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Vancouver ILWU Strike Avoided

Written by Sandy Williams

A strike by Seaspan tugboat operators at the Westshore Terminal in Roberts Banks near Vancouver has been averted by last minute negotiations on Wednesday, June 3. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 400 voted 100 percent in favor of a strike earlier in the day but the union and Seaspan have now agreed to enter into federal mediation.

A strike by Seaspan operators would affect coal exports from the Westshore Terminal. Last year the terminal exported approximately 30 million tons of coal. At least 25 bulkers, mostly capesize, are scheduled to load cargoes at the terminal in June with two already at the docks.

Contract negotiations for nearly 20,000 ILWU dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports are currently underway. The current six year contract will expire June 30, 2014.

Armada Corporate Intelligence listed the ILWU contract negotiations as one of the risks facing the global economy in its June 1 Global Economic Security Estimate:

“The ILWU contract negotiations covering port workers up and down the US West Coast are going to heat up this month. The contract expires on June 30th and most analysts don’t expect a deal to get done prior. That doesn’t mean that a work stoppage is imminent or that it would come even if there isn’t a contract agreement reached by the 30th, but the chances of a work stoppage go up significantly on July 1st.”

Armada says supply chain managers are “expediting shipments to get them into the US Prior to June 30th, to avoid any potential work stoppages.”

In a joint press release update yesterday, ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said a media report suggesting a suspension of talks was in error. “Both parties remain at the table and are working to reach agreement on a new coast-wide contract.”

Dr. Chris Kuehl, managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence will be speaking at the SMU Steel Summit Conference, Sept. 3 & 4 at the Georgia International Convention Center. Dr. Kuehl will provide deeper insight on issues, like the potential dockworkers strike, that are impacting US and global industries.

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