Container truck traffic has fallen 85 percent at Canada’s Port Vancouver, where union and non-union truckers have rejected a mediator’s return-to-work proposal.
The unionized Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association and United Truckers Association, the port’s owner-operator organization, refused mediator’s Vince Ready tentative agreement March 8.
The federally-appointed third-party intermediary met with truckers to broker the proposal. Ready’s independent review of Port Metro Vancouver’s trucking operations is expected to be completed by summer.
The Retail Council of Canada reported March 11 that only 600-700 of the 2,000 truckers normally serving the port are on the job.
Truckers are demanding better wages and shorter wait times. Port officials say GPS data indicate 63 percent of intermodal trucks wait under an hour at terminals while less than 5 percent wait more than two hours.
The port is seeking to continue and expand a court injunction to keep protesters off its property.
A federal court justice granted the injunction against UTA members after the PMV submitted video and other information indicating association members were attempting to interfere in port operations. Consequently, the port has placed security personnel inside trucks to record events and to assist drivers continuing to work.
PMV’s Robin Silvester said port officers cannot be involved in employment and contract negotiations. Companies contract with truckers, but the port is not party to these negotiations, said the president and CEO of Canada’s largest port.“The impact of truckers walking off the job is in the order of about $885 million per week,” said Silvester.
The union’s collective agreement regarding port service expired in 2012. It had voted to strike if issues had not been resolved by March 6, while the UTA began its work stoppage Feb. 26.
The port said 150 private companies contract with 800 owner-operators, while 250-400 Unifor truckers serve the port.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.