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Vancouver, B.C. port faces second strike threat

Vancouver, B.C. port faces second strike threat

The Port of Vancouver, Canada's busiest container port, now faces a second looming threat of a labor strike.

   Canadian union truckers that service the port voted unanimously on Dec. 21 to support their bargaining committee and to hold a strike authorization vote in January as part of an effort to win new contracts. The move comes on the heels of a threatened January strike by union docker foremen that service the Canadian West Coast ports.   

   The Vancouver Container Truck Association/Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents about 750 truck drivers that service the port, allege that more than half of the port-servicing trucking firms are undercutting union contract-guaranteed rates for the drivers. Vancouver drivers, which receive set rates according to a settlement following a 2005 strike the shuttered the port, also allege that the guaranteed rates are not being properly enforced.

   The current contracts between the trucking firms and the drivers expire on Dec. 31.

   While the Vancouver unionized drayage system has been held up by United States West Coast ports as a role model, the VCTA/CAW says that the current Vancouver system has problems.

   'We have met with representatives of the Ministry of Transportation, who investigate companies who do not pay agreed upon rates, and told them the system is just not working. There needs to be more investigation and stiffer penalties to those who undercut the system,' said Paul Uppal, VCTA-CAW Local 2006 Business Agent.

   The CAW, which also represents port drivers, praised the VCTA vote.

   'Many members raised issues of undercutting, wait times and lack of work available as the result of the port issuing too many licenses,' said Hemi Mitic, Assistant to the CAW National President. 'The vote speaks loud and clear, our members are not prepared to stand by and watch their livelihood destroyed without a fight.'

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