On April 20, 2023, the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) which represents labor workers in California, Oregon, and Washington, continue to negotiate a new contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The contract expired on July 1, 2022, and the ILWU announced a tentative agreement was reached with the PMA on certain key issues. However, talks will continue.
On the same day, the PMA indicated that while considerable progress has been made about the coastwise contract negotiations, several key issues are still unresolved. Since the start of negotiations, both the ILWU and PMA have declined to give specifics of the tentative agreements made to date, as both mutually agreed not to make announcements. However, last week, PMA officials indicated, “the union is deliberately conducting inspections that are not routine, unscheduled, and done in a way that disrupts terminal operations.”
Signs of Progress
The ILWU and PMA previously announced, in July 2022, that they had reached a tentative agreement on terms for maintenance of health benefits and issued a joint press release in February 2023, announcing they continue to negotiate and remained hopeful of reaching a deal soon. The parties have agreed not to discuss the terms of the tentative agreements as negotiations continue.
Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Report
The WSJ reported sources familiar with the ongoing negotiations said, “It was related to automated machinery at cargo terminals, commonly referred to as automation”. The WSJ further reported the agreement covered terms over the use of automation as being one of the biggest obstacles to the negotiations, leaving wages as one of the main dividing points in reaching a new multiyear agreement.
Twin Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
Port Directors have made statements and noted they are working with stakeholders, including federal officials, to support a return to normal operations in the San Pedro Bay after last week’s disruption. Additionally, Port Director, Gene Seroka has been quoted in part, “he continues to keep the Biden Administration updated daily.”
Upcoming Union Meeting Scheduled
On April 24, 2023, the Journal of Commerce editor, Bill Mongelluzzo, announced, “A meeting is taking place on Monday, May 1, 2023, between West Coast longshore labor and employer representatives to discuss a key issue involving nonautomated terminals and workforce to be used at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Resolving the issue could result in a major hurdle being cleared and would enable them to move on to other big issues, such as wages and retirement benefits, and on the road to a new coastwide contract. Negotiations have been ongoing for a new contract for nearly one year”.
Please contact your Western Overseas representative with any questions.