The International Longshoreman Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Steamship Association (PSA) continue to negotiate a new contract
after 13+ months.
Vessel trade has seen a slight increase on the West Coast, despite occasional labor problems that include not showing up for work, necessitating the closure of a terminal with little to no notification.
According to Marine Traffic of North America, on June 9, 2023, many container vessels are expected to call at Oakland, which is currently crowded with vessels waiting for a terminal to unload. As well the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are becoming noticeably busier.
Further south, terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach are loosening up, however, with current labor ongoing tactics, the situation in the San Pedro Bay may create backloads. The sporadic but continuing labor antics are creating carrier/terminal operational downtime created by union workers and is having a negative effect on the carrier’s schedules and rates. In turn, rates could be increased to cover their out-of-pocket expenses.
Earlier in June 2023, the National Retail Federation called on President Biden to intervene in the West Coast port labor negotiations after the largest terminal at the Port of Long Beach closed amid a standoff with dockworkers rallying for better pay. As well, closure followed with similar disruption in Oakland (U.S. Department of Labor continues to employ teams to work with both the ILWU and PSA).
More than 22,000 dockworkers are at ports in California, Oregon, and Washington states, as twenty-nine ports across the U.S. west coast have been working without a contract since July 2022. Contract talks are in the final stretch, but frustrations are high after more than a year at the negotiating table.
David French, Senior Vice President of the retail group, indicated that the industry accounts for about half of the volume at the nation’s container ports and is gearing up for back-to-school, Christmas, and key sales events and was quoted: “We urge the Biden administration to mediate to ensure the parties quickly finalize a new contract without additional disruptions.
As of June 3, 2023, the ILWU stated in part: “It remains committed to negotiating a good agreement for ILWU workers as contract talks continue amid discussion about carrier’s pandemic profits.” Their statement released on June 2, 2023, indicated that PSA member carriers and terminal operators made historic profits of $510 billion during the pandemic with profits jumping 1000% in some cases”. Further stating in part: “ILWU workers risked and lost their lives during the pandemic to ensure grocery store shelves were stocked, essential medical supplies were reaching hospitals, and record volumes of consumer goods continue to reach the doorsteps of American consumers while also enabling the shipping industries to collect astronomical revenues.”
Note: The average ILWU dock worker’s annual salary is estimated at $200,000.
If you have any questions, contact your Western Overseas representative.