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B.C. port workers get eyes on contract offer from maritime employers

International Longshore and Warehouse Union members expected to vote on the offer later this week

Thousands of workers at British Columbia’s ports are taking off the day shift to attend meetings and learn details of an agreement struck between their union and employers.

The local chapters of International Longshore and Warehouse Union are holding meetings today to discuss the deal, which the BC Maritime Employers Association says is the same agreement union leaders had previously rejected without a full-membership vote.

Members filed into meetings at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre today to hear from leaders of the Local 500 chapter, representing longshore and other port workers in the city.

Both the front and back parking lots of the facility were packed to capacity, and vehicles filled street parking spaces for several blocks as members continued to stream into the building after its scheduled start at 10 a.m.

Several workers attending the meeting declined to comment to media.

The labour dispute triggered a 13-day strike that started on Canada Day, stopping billions of dollars’ worth of goods from moving in and out of some of the country’s busiest ports.

Strike action was suspended when the contract was reached with the help of a mediator two weeks ago, but it was then reinstated when the union leadership turned down the plan early last week.

A labour board then ruled the second strike action by the port workers was illegal, prompting the union to issue 72-hour strike notice, which it then reversed hours later.

Union members are expected to vote on the offer later this week, but there’s no word yet on when the results could be made public.

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