Importers are preparing for another wave of disruption over the July 4th holiday week as about 7,500 dock workers representing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) continued on Monday with their third day of strike, impacting Canada’s Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert.
The labor turmoil arrives just as North American retailers and manufacturers breathed a sigh of relief over last month’s proposed solution to U.S. West Coast port delays that were triggered by a parallel set of work slowdowns. A solution to that clash gained promise after the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) on June 15 reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, after workers had been reporting to their jobs without a deal since their previous contract expired in July 2022.
However, Canadian dockworkers just up the coast from those California, Oregon, and Washington facilities are now putting pressure on negotiators from the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA), saying they are seeking relief from difficult job conditions including a contract that has been expired since March 31 and their history of working through pandemic conditions and covid lockdowns.
According to the online container trading platform Container xChange, that Canadian strike could trigger a domino effect hitting both Asia and the U.S., specifically cramping the automobile, container, breakbulk, and project cargo business sectors. Delays caused by the strike will slow down the vessel transit and dwell times at both ports, creating cost increases which are often passed on to customers, leading to higher prices for goods, the German firm said.
“The strike could have a significant impact on the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, which are crucial gateways for Canada's foreign trade, especially with Asia,” Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO of Container xChange, said in a release. “These ports handle a substantial portion of Canada's imports and exports. The disruption caused by the strike can lead to delays, congestion, and inefficiencies in the movement of cargo, affecting various industries and businesses that rely on the smooth functioning of the supply chain.”
The strike comes during a busy week of organized labor actions in the U.S. as well, such as news that members of Teamsters Local 767 who work at parcel delivery giant UPS Inc. announced they will hold a practice picket on July 5, ahead of the July 31 expiration of their contract. Also Monday, striking Amazon delivery drivers and dispatchers from Palmdale, California, extended their picket line to a fourth Amazon warehouse in the region, demanding that the e-commerce giant stop its alleged “unfair labor practices.”