Thousands of port workers, including scores of Hell Angels, their associates, gangsters, and other criminals across British Columbia, are set to resume strike activity after failing to ratify a tentative deal that was reached through federal mediation.

More than 7,400 workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) had walked off the job from July 1 until July 13 over issues like port automation, outside contracting and the increasing cost of living.

Depending on the tightness of their security passes, though, the majority of Hells Angels and other criminals are banned from parts of the port where sensitive and expensive cargo is being held.

The union and the B.C. Maritime Employers Association had agreed to a tentative four-year deal last Thursday morning to end the shutdown, and the workers were expected to be back on Friday.

The deal, however, ultimately fell through.

“The term of the collective agreement that was given with today’s uncertain times, is far too long,” reads the ILWU statement. “We must be able to readdress the uncertainty in the world’s financial markets for our members.”

The workers had been on strike since July 1 over wages, contracting and automation, halting shipments in and out of about 30 ports in B.C. The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade has said there are 63,000 shipping containers stuck on vessels waiting at B.C. ports to be unloaded.

The infiltration of biker gangsters and criminals into the port workforce is perpetuated, said a 2015 Vancouver Sun investigation, by a longtime employment practice that allows existing union members to nominate friends, relatives and associates when new jobs become available.

Police say organized crime maintains this foothold on the waterfront for strategic purposes — so drugs and other contraband can be smuggled in some of the more than 1.5 million containers that pass through the four container terminals at Port Metro Vancouver every year.

Only 3% of containers arriving are checked by the Canada Border Services Agency.

“It is a concern to us. We feel that a lot of the illegal drugs that come into this country come in through our ports,” said Det.-Staff. Sgt. Len Isnor, the country’s top law enforcement expert on the Hells Angels, told the Sun.

According to the National Post’s coverage of the story, Isnor, who works for the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), has testified at several major B.C. cases involving the biker gang.

Isnor said the Hells Angels have maintained a foothold in Canada’s three largest ports — Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax — for the past 30 years.

“So, as far as the ports are concerned, it’s the whole success of the Hells Angels,” he said.

While airports have tightened security in the post-9/11 world, Metro Vancouver docks remain relatively porous, wrote the Sun, allowing people linked to organized crime, and even some convicted of international drug smuggling, to work on the waterfront.

The Sun identified at least six full-patch Hells Angels who are active members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Some have worked on the docks for years, like Al DeBruyn, a senior White Rock Hells Angel who started in 1981 — two years before the Hells Angels was set up in B.C.

At the time of the Sun’s investigation, it was learned that other Hells Angels had joined the longshoremen more recently. Rob Alvarez of the Elite Nomads chapter and Kelowna Angel Damiano Dipopolo started on May 24, 2012. West Point Hells Angel Ryan Sept, said the Sun, started just last year and was nominated by another full-patch member of his chapter.

The Railway Association of Canada estimates it could take three to five days for supply chains to recover for each single day the port was shuttered. Following a 13-day shutdown, that’s at least 6 weeks.

But now it’s going to take even longer. 

Following a 2020 strike at the Port of Montreal which lasted 10 days, there was a backlog that took three months to clear, Christina Santini, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, told the CBC.

Businesses awaiting stock on the West Coast could expect to wait even longer before supply chains are clear, she said. 


  • Mark Bonokoski

    Mark Bonokoski is a member of the Canadian News Hall of Fame and has been published by a number of outlets – including the Toronto Sun, Maclean’s and Readers’ Digest.