Longshore union, employers reach tentative pact

Leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced July 28 that they have reached a preliminary agreement for a new six-year contract, to replace the agreement that expired July 1.

The tentative pact covers some 25,000 West Coast longshore workers at 29 U.S. West Coast ports. The PMA represents 71 domestic and international carriers, terminal operators and stevedoring companies operating at those ports.

In a joint statement, ILWU International President Bob McEllrath and PMA President Jim McKenna said the proposed pact meets the needs of both workers and the industry, and “allows West Coast ports to be competitive and provides the good jobs that workers and communities need.”

No details were released pending ratification by the union and association memberships, but McEllrath and McKenna said that in the meantime, the former contract would be extended and normal port operations would resume.

The PMA claimed workers had engaged in a slowdown at the ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach and Oakland, but ILWU spokesperson Craig Merrilees called actions like coordinated coffee breaks “a modest response to worker frustration” over the slow pace of the talks, which started March 17.

In mid-June, the union said tentative agreement had been reached on maintaining current health and welfare benefits.

mbechtel@pww.org