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Vancouver port trucker strike averted as union reaches deal with 2nd carrier

Drivers to get benefits, pay increases

The threat of a strike by 200 truckers came as the Port of Vancouver faced a disruption of rail service. (Photo: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority/Colin Jewell Photography)

A strike by container truckers at a carrier serving the Port of Vancouver has been averted after their union reached a last-minute agreement with their company on Thursday. 

Prudential Transportation signed a tentative agreement less than a day before around 120 drivers were set to begin their strike, the truckers’ union, Unifor, said. It followed a similar agreement reached by another carrier serving the port, Aheer Transportation, on Tuesday.

The agreements averted a potentially devastating blow to the British Columbia port as it continues to struggle from the disruption of CN and Canadian Pacific rail service due to flooding and landslides. More than 50 vessels, including six container ships, were at anchor as of Thursday evening.

Unifor said Prudential and Aheer tentatively signed onto a pattern agreement similar to others the union has reached with carriers serving the port. The agreements include health and dental insurance, and increases to waiting time and daily minimum payments. 

“This is basic stuff and just basic respect,” Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s western regional director, told American Shipper. “I’m proud of these drivers and proud of them for standing up, and I’m glad we got an agreement that gives them some stability and some protection for them and their families going forward.”

The drivers at Prudential and Aheer account for about 200 of the 1,700 truckers who serve the port. The agreements came after Unifor issued a 72-hour strike notice on Monday. 

McGarrigle said Unifor will continue efforts to organize nonunionized drivers at the port. 

“It’s not in anyone’s interest — not these drivers’, not the shippers’, not the owners’ — to have these constant disputes,” McGarrigle said. “Port drivers are reasonable, and if they’re treated reasonably, you can get a lot of productivity out of them.”

Prudential Transportation did not respond to requests for comment.

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]