In this order from Vice-Chairperson Guilbert, the CIRB (Canada Industrial Relations Board) finds in favour of UFCW, Local 175 and confirms that Bunge of Canada Ltd, in its operations at the Port of Hamilton, is not engaged in “longshoring”. Bunge’s workers, represented by UFCW, are therefore not captured by ILA 1654’s geographic certification at the Port of Hamilton.
This order confirms that the status quo remains in place at the Port of Hamilton. Longshoring there is still subject to the definitions and exceptions set out in MEA 857 (1991).
For UFCW, Local 175 this ruling confirms without a doubt that they are the bargaining agent representing Bunge’s employees who work in and around the Port of Hamilton.
The Canada Labour Code at section 34 grants the CIRB discretion to declare a specific trade union as the common bargaining agent for all longshoremen across all the employers within a specific geographic area who actively engage in the longshoring industry. This is called geographic certification. At the Port of Hamilton, ILA 1654 is that common bargaining agent. It represents longshoremen who work for members of the Maritime Employer’s Association (the MEA) of Hamilton.
Bunge of Canada Ltd. is an agribusiness that processes soybeans and canola. A portion of its operations occur at the Port of Hamilton, where Bunge receives raw product by rail, truck, and ship. Bunge is not a member of Hamilton’s MEA and is not party to the collective agreement between the MEA and ILA 1654. Bunge’s workers, including those at Pier 11 in the Port of Hamilton, are represented in bargaining by UFCW, Local 175.
The key question is whether Bunge, by unloading shipments that arrive at the Port of Hamilton by water, is engaged in the longshoring industry.
If so, as ILA 1654 argued, Bunge’s labour relations at the Port of Hamilton are be captured by the geographic certification bargaining relationship between the Hamilton MEA and ILA 1654.
If not, as UFCW Local 175 argued, Bunge’s labour relations with UFCW, Local 175 remain undisturbed.
Vice-Chairperson Guilbert notes, first, that the order creating the geographic certification area for the Port of Hamilton – MEA 857 (1991) defines longshoring employers as those “in the business of contracting to load or unload ships for others for remuneration.” That order also specifically excludes employers who “do send out or receive products on their own account via vessels which are loaded or unloaded by their own employees.” (175)
The order in MEA 857 (1991) used Stelco as a clear example of a non-longshoring employer. The Vice-Chairperson in our case writes that Bunge’s operations mirror Stelco’s almost perfectly and that, “the evidence shows that, at the time and to this day, Bunge brings oilseeds (instead of coal) for its processing facility (instead of a steel plant) and then loads the resulting vegetable oil and by-product meal (instead of steel) onto trucks and rail for market. All of this loading and unloading at Bunge is done and has been done by Bunge employees and on Bunge’s own account, just as was the case at Stelco where Stelco used its own employees and did so on its own account.” (176)
Vice-Chairperson Guilbert therefore finds that Bunge clearly does not meet the definition of a longshoring employer, writing about Bunge: “It is not a longshoring employer. It is not a new grain company. It is an oilseed processor. It is engaged in purchasing, storing and processing soybeans and canola seeds. It is not in the business of contracting to load or unload vessels for others for remuneration. Therefore, it is not an employer that falls within the scope of the certification order.” (182)