There are 263 Teamster members, represented by seven shop stewards, at the vehicle processing and logistics facility on Annacis Island. Over 429,000 vehicles per year are processed at the roll on/roll off facilities on Annacis Island and Fraser Wharves.
The Teamsters drive the vehicles off the general cargo ships, accessorize them and process them for shipping to dealerships across the country.
Dave Syms, a 13-year member working in the leather shop, was installing the heat pads for heated seats. He said customers and even dealers are unaware that these and other options (like step rails on Toyota trucks and ground effect kits and side skirts) aren’t installed at the automobile-manufacturing factories overseas.
“There are lots of ups and downs with the economy,” said Syms. But the steady work and union pay make it worthwhile for him to commute all the way from Chilliwack. “Without the union I’d be looking at making $14 to $16 an hour.” Tough but fair bargaining and a good collective agreement has resulted in an hourly wage more than twice that amount.
There’s been a hiring spurt of late. Shop steward Shaun Halliday said the volume of vehicles coming to the site has increased steadily and the company has increased the number of full-time jobs by at least a hundred in the past few years. Like all shop stewards, most of his time is spent listening to members’ concerns about disregard for the terms of the collective agreement and seniority rights.