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Canadian Dockworkers, Employer Reach Deal

Canadian dockworkers and their employers in British Columbia agreed to a labor contract Sunday, ending the uncertainty that has plagued the North American port system for the past month, according to CNBC

What’s going on: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada voted to ratify a four-year agreement with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association following a tumultuous few weeks that included two dockworker strikes—one lasting 14 days and the other only a day.

  • “The new deal includes increases in wages, benefits, and training,” according to BCMEA, which also said deal ratification would offer “certainty and stability for the future of Canada’s West Coast ports.”

Why it’s important: During the two-week strike, “[s]ome U.S. shippers reconsigned the destination of their containers to the U.S during that time. Other ocean carriers eventually went back to the Canadian ports and waited to unload both Canadian and U.S. freight.”

  • Changes to shipping routes affect railroads, since fewer containers traveling by rail can be unloaded at ports during work disruptions.
  • It could take the railroads weeks to clear the backlog of containers built up as a result of the work stoppage.
  • While train trade from Canada to the U.S. is recovering, it still ended the week of July 29 with a 6.2% decrease, according to CNBC.

The NAM’s take: “Disruptions to the interconnected North American supply chain have been a constant challenge for manufacturers over the past several years,” said NAM Director of Infrastructure and Labor Policy. “We welcome the announcement that this agreement has been ratified and will continue urging swift resolution to labor negotiations that might further impede reliable and efficient freight movement.” 

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