LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — More than 7,000 unionized dockworkers may soon hit the picket lines in Canada and it could cause a ripple effect in the U.S. and perhaps consumers’ wallets.
The contract dispute could bring a return to the supply chain slowdown the U.S. saw during the pandemic.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada said Monday that 99% of its members voted in favor of authorizing a strike. The decision comes after months-long deliberation, which started in July 2022, between port workers and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association mediated by the Canadian government. It means the union’s 7,200 dockworkers could walk out as soon as June 24, the Washington Post reported.
While it’s not nearly the coronavirus pandemic backup the U.S. saw two years ago, the new buildup is underway amid ongoing labor negotiations. It also adds to increasing labor tensions affecting ports along the West Coast, the Washington Post reported.
During the pandemic-induced peak of the backup, more than 100 ships were anchored off the Southern California coast, and many loitered for months before being able to dock and unload.
Now, a labor situation could lead to a new disruption. Negotiations have been underway for weeks between the ports, the U.S. arm of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the Pacific Maritime Association, but for now, there are no indications of closing a deal.
The unions deny engaging in any slowdowns or unofficial job actions, but a key terminal operator claims there’s an ongoing ripple effect now from an alleged five-day slowdown earlier this month.
The ILWU represents more than 22,000 workers at nearly 30 ports here on the West Coast, and now the ILWU Canada has authorized a strike. That threat along with the lack of a deal on the West Coast is already having an impact.
“Just the perceived potential headwinds are going to cause this to happen anyway and there’s a considerable amount of leverage that comes with having this kind of activity at a time when the volumes are as high as they’ve been in six, seven, eight months going into this season,” said Paul Brashier, VP of Dray and Intermodal Services/ITS Logistics.
During the peak of the supply chain issues in late 2021, many car dealerships lots were empty and shelves were bare at a majority of grocery stores.
NewsNation has heart reports that right now ships off the coast are waiting to unload tires, furniture, wine, and granite slabs, etc. Those parts and items are vital for all kinds of American manufacturers and retailers.
Ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Calif., Oakland, Calif., and Seattle, which are gateways for container ships that bring imports from Asia, have intermittently shuttered or slowed in recent weeks amid ongoing contract negotiations, The Washinton Post reported.