US, Canadian port workers end strikes, but looming UPS shutdown could worsen freight logjam

The port of Vancouver, Canada.

A new labor deal with a four-year contract has been announced for Canadian shipping port employees, ending a 13-day labor strike.

Around 7,500 dock workers in the ports of Vancouver and Price Rupert belonging to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union walked off the job on 1 July after failing to come to an agreement on a new contract, according to Reuters.

While both ports have now reopened, the BCMEA said the strike had “disastrous economic impacts," disrupting more than CAD 6.5 billion (USD 4.6 billion, EUR 4 billion) worth of cargo, FreightWaves reported.

U.S. National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Jonathan Gold said the strike will have a lasting impact due to the freight congestion it caused, and could potentially affect U.S. retailers.

“[It] could affect some U.S. retailers whose merchandise comes in through Canada and could have a potential ripple effect at other ports,” he said.

On 1 June, longshoremen belonging to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in U.S. West Coast ports also went on strike, but they agreed to a deal that returned them to work on 14 June. Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said it will take several months for the deal to be ratified by the union.

There is a third potential labor disruption looming that could impact U.S. supply chains, as UPS and the Teamsters union are at an impasse in negotiations on their next contract, covering around 340,000 workers. Their current contract expires at the end of July. 

"We urge all parties in both negotiations to get back to the table and continue efforts to reach a final deal without engaging in disruptive activity. Seamless supply chains are critical for retailers as we head into the peak shipping season for the winter holidays," Gold said.

Photo courtesy of Toms Auzins/Shutterstock 


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