BCMEA, which represents a range of port employers, including terminal operating companies and shipping agents, said the notice was a “regrettable development” after months of talks.
The previous collective agreement between the labor union and employer expired March 31.
BCMEA said it would remain engaged with the union through the federal mediation process “with the desire of reaching a fair and balanced deal at the table that keeps our ports stable and goods flowing for Canadians.”
Grain shipments will continue to move, even if ILWU members walk out July 1, but servicing of vessels used by all other industries, including automotive, would stop, according to David Adams, CEO of Global Automakers of Canada, which represents overseas car companies in the country.
“The strike will make an already bad situation at the ports even worse. We respect the collective bargaining process but we encourage both parties to come to a negotiated settlement as quickly as possible,” Adams told Automotive News Canada in an e-mail.
Automakers importing vehicles into Canada through the Port of Vancouver’s two auto terminals have already been facing delays of up to a month. In some cases, companies have resorted to diverting vessels to ports in the United States to avoid slowdowns in Vancouver.
Fallout from a strike would not be limited to finished vehicles.
Brian Kingston, CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, which represents the Detroit Three in Canada, said parts and raw materials shipments would also be upgraded.
“This threatens North American automotive production, the hundreds of thousands of people employed in the sector, and the broader Canadian economy,” he said in a release.
Kingston also urged Ottawa to work with both parties on a resolution.
Federal mediators remain at work on the file.
In a joint statement June 28, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Minister of Labor Seamus O’Regan said an agreement hammered out at the bargaining table was the best outcome.
“Senior mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service are meeting with the parties and will keep supporting negotiations until an agreement is reached.”
The ministers did not float the possibility of back-to-work legislation that would prevent a strike or impose a settlement, even though one business group was advocating for such a solution.
In a June 28 statement, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce urged the federal government to “use all the tools in its toolbox to prevent a strike.”