Canada’s West Coast ports once again have a tentative port labor deal on the table, despite a tumultuous weekend that began with union members rejecting an earlier proposed deal.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada said Sunday night they had secured a tentative agreement with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association and would present the deal to union members.
The BCMEA said the deal came with assistance from the Canada Industrial Relations Board and the two negotiating parties planned to recommend ratification of the deal to their respective members.
The new deal comes after ILWU Canada announced Friday night union members had voted to reject a tentative deal the two parties had previously recommended and called upon employers to return to the table.
The BCMEA said Friday they were disappointed the tentative deal had failed, and bemoaned the uncertainty that could follow as the union retained the ability to strike provided a 72-hour notice. The port employers’ group also indicated they would wait for Canada’s federal government to signal the next steps for the negotiation.
The next morning, Canada Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan directed the Canada Industrial Relations Board to assess the situation, determine whether the vote had closed the door for a negotiated resolution, and if so, prepare to impose a collective agreement or final binding arbitration to resolve remaining issues.
“Our economy cannot face further disruption from this dispute,” O’Regan said in a Saturday statement. He added the government was “prepared for all options and eventualities” after several officials met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 19 to discuss solutions to a then-ongoing West Coast port labor strike.
By Sunday, ILWU Canada posted a public statement from President Rob Ashton, where he specifically said union members had rejected the deal they were presented due to concerns over safety, wellbeing and contracting out maintenance work.
“ILWU Canada remains open to further negotiations with the BCMEA and the involvement of the Federal Government to address maintenance work and worker safety issues,” Ashton said.
Hours later, the two sides announced they had reached a new, tentative deal and would restart the process of presenting the deal to members.