27 Jan Media Reports Progress in West Coast Port Talks
The International Longshore (ILWU) and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have reached a tentative agreement on the maintenance and repair of truck chassis at West Coast ports, according to media reports.
The news is the first sign that a federal mediator who joined the talks at the request of both parties earlier this month is having an impact. The ILWU and the PMA have been negotiating without a collective bargaining agreement since June, 2014. The ILWU represents dock workers at more than 29 West Coast ports.
An agreement on chassis would represent a significant breakthrough, but several issues remain outstanding including wages, pensions, and the length of the contract, according to Alex Boian, senior director of government affairs for Outdoor Industry Association.
Port congestion, which has worsened in recent years for a variety of reasons, became noticeably worse in November, when PMA accused ILWU of intentionally worsening the situation through a variety of work actions aimed at strengthening its hand at the bargaining table. A lack of ILWU crane operators, for instance, has made the task of retrieving containers piling up at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach difficult and costly.
“The outdoor industry has been substantially impacted by the slowdown at the ports, with many brands reporting weeks of delays in receiving products or shifting to ports not covered by the ILWU and PMA,” noted Boian. “Even after reaching a final agreement, it is unlikely that the congestion will subside quickly and could take months to clear up after the conclusion of a new contract.”