West Coast Employers, ILWU Reach Contract Agreement

West Coast Employers, ILWU Reach Contract Agreement

The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union late Friday reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports.

The deal was reached with assistance from U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh. The parties will not be releasing details of the agreement at this time. The agreement is subject to ratification by both parties.

“After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Bob McEllrath in a joint statement. “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”

Both sides agreed operations at all 29 West Coast ports would return to normal by Saturday evening pending ratification, although it could take weeks to clear the backlog of containers clogging port yards. The PMA had halted vessel loading and unloading twice in February to avoid paying overtime to ILWU worker it said were intentionally slowing port operations to gain leverage in the negotiations. The two sides have been negotiating since May, 2014 and operating the ports without a contract since July 1, 2014, when their previous six-year contract expired.

“After months of delays at our West Coast ports, we are pleased to hear that the ILWU and PMA have finally reached an agreement and ended their dispute,” said Juanita D. Duggan, President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “Now, we urge both sides to ratify the deal as quickly as possible so that the backlog at the ports can be cleared, and normal operations can resume.

Duggan said that with nearly 50 percent of all clothing and shoes imported through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach alone, the dispute had already caused extreme delays and millions in lost sales.

She thanked the Secretaries of Labor and Commerce for bringing the two sides together, and all the members of Congress.  “If our ports aren’t open, we can’t trade,” she said. “The serious and negative impacts this dispute left on the economy demonstrates why we cannot let this happen again.”