By Tom Peters

In 2005 Richard Moore left his native province of Ontario and in the past several years has established himself as a key figure in Halifax’s marine community. It wasn’t a difficult decision for the President and CEO of the Halifax Employers Association to uproot his family and come east. “The position (at HEA) brought me this way. We had vacationed here a lot and liked the region so when the opportunity came up, the family was interested in moving, so we did,” he said.

Now a resident of Bedford and a family man with four children ranging in age from 14 to 21, Moore enjoys his role dealing with the association’s 26 members and the waterfront’s labour force. HEA was formed in 1996 to replace the Maritime Employers Association and acts as a bargaining agent for employers engaged in the longshore industry at the port. The association also develops and maintains positive employer/employee work relations, oversees and coordinates training of longshoremen, collects all pension and welfare assessments (based on tonnage) for the unions and submits those funds to the pension and welfare trust funds. Among other responsibilities overseen by Moore, HEA provides human resources support and services.

Prior to coming to Halifax, Moore worked as a Director of Employee Relations with Brinks Canada and prior to that was Manager of Labour Relations with Ontario Hydro and Ontario Power Generation. The HEA position complements his background. “It is a different industry but essentially my main role here is labour relations and human resources, and that has been my focus,” he said. “I did my Masters (degree) in industrial relations at Queens (University) so I have worked in labour relations and human resources since I graduated in 1988.”

The work has been positive. “It has been good. There are always challenges that come up but it has been a good experience. I think there are a lot knowledgeable people in the (marine) industry in Halifax. In a lot places you work, a lot of the management don’t really know the collective agreements but here I think employers especially are pretty knowledgeable of the terms of the collective agreements. Employees and unions seem to be very knowledgeable as well about what the agreements contain,” he said.

Overall, there are six employers of labour on the waterfront, but only four currently – Logistec, Empire, Halterm and Ceres. Moore says the Port is fortunate to have a good working relationship with the labour unions. “Things come up from time-to-time but the lines of communication are open. Like with anything, you are not always going to agree but we can pick up the phone and call each other and work things out. Not every workplace has that kind of relationship. We are kind of a close-knit community here so everyone knows everyone and I think that does help getting things done,” he said.

And that stable workforce is noticed in the industry. “I think it is a real advantage from a labour relations perspective that we have a stable environment. People don’t have to worry that there will be a labour dispute or something that will disrupt their shipments. I hear that from shipping lines when I meet with people outside of Halifax. They say it is a pretty reliable port,” he said. Moore’s efforts have no doubt helped to maintain that reputation.