Port of Montreal ILA Votes in Support of Strike Mandate
Longshoreman at the Port of Montreal, Canada’s second-largest port, have voted almost unanimously in support of giving Union leadership the option to strike at any point during ongoing contract negotiations.
Negotiations between the Local 1657 branch of the International Longshoremen’s Association (Montreal Checkers and Coopers) and the Maritime Employers Association have been ongoing since December 2018, the same month previous labor contract (established in 2013) expired. Reported in the January 2nd Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) article Longshoremen at Port of Montreal Vote for Strike Mandate, Union spokesperson Michael Murray says that, “…he is not optimistic regarding the state of negotiations between his union and the Maritime Employers Association,” citing the need for amendments to schedules that require union members to work “19 days out of 21,” as well as improvements to working conditions that see longshoremen facing “strict rules,” “habitual disciplinary measures,” and frequent suspensions.
According to the CBC, “A spokesperson for the employers’ association says negotiations are going well and its members are surprised by the union’s statements,” however, the 99.49% of longshoremen voting in support of a strike mandate may serve as evidence to the contrary. Murray is further quoted in the Montreal Gazette, “‘The work schedules are from another era,” he said. “There is a new generation (of longshoremen) and they want to better reconcile their work with their family and private lives.’”
While the union currently possesses the ability to exercise pressure tactics that include a strike, it does not mean that one is imminent. “In the past several years we’ve seen similar discourse with the ILA and the USMX regarding a contract for the East Coast and Gulf regions and the ILWU and the PMA regarding the West Coast,” Says Odyssey’s John Nikolich, “It would appear that the labor union is seeking the right to strike during the contract negotiation period, not that a strike is imminent. Also, traditionally if the two parties are at an impasse they can both agree to bring the matter to arbitration. In essence, the union has not gone on strike nor is a strike imminent, but it is imperative to continually monitor the situation.”
As we receive further updates we will be sure to share that information as quickly as possible.
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