Union workers with the Clipper ferry line, which travels between Victoria and Seattle, say they’re prepared to go on strike during the Labour Day long weekend if a deal can’t be reached with employers by then.
On Wednesday, Unifor Local 114 announced its members voted 100 per cent in favour of taking potential strike action on Sunday, Sept. 3.
“Unless the employer shows up to the bargaining table with a fair offer, the Victoria Clipper will be anchored on one of the busiest tourism weekends of the year,” said Lana Payne, Unifor national president, in a statement.
Negotiations between the union and the Clipper have been ongoing since May, after the union’s previous contract expired on Oct. 31, 2022.
The union says it’s looking for wage increases, updates to workers’ scheduling system, and better job security for employees.
Clipper chief operating officer Gordon Dirker says the company believes its latest offer is “very competitive,” and says it’s the company’s priority to “continue to bargain in good faith and come up with a solution that supports our team members.”
Dirker says, out of an abundance of caution, the Clipper is preparing a contingency plan in case a strike occurs.
“Alternative transportation is being arranged for September 3rd and 4th, and we will return to transportation between Seattle and Victoria on Tuesday, September 5th,” he said.
Unifor Local 114 represents 25 workers in Victoria, some of whom work in customer service, ticketing, baggage handling and docking for the Clipper.
On Wednesday, the union said it had started contacting local businesses on both sides of the border to warn them of the potential strike.
Customers who wish to cancel a reservation can do so by emailing [email protected], or by calling 800-888-2535, with full refunds available for standard fare cancellations so long as they are made at least two days before the ticket date.
“Good jobs and fair wages are pivotal to building a thriving tourism industry,” said Unifor Western regional director Gavin McGarrigle.
“The Victoria Clipper is no exception. The company must negotiate a fair contract or risk total service disruption,” he said.
The union says contract disputes and service disruptions are relatively new for the Clipper, with negotiations becoming more difficult since 2016, when new owners acquired the company.
“We remain committed to signing a collective agreement so that we can get back to offering the high level of service FRS Clipper has been offering and will offer for years to come,” said Dirker.