Ratification of new port contract adds stability to West Coast ports

port of los angeles wikimedia 2According to a release from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, West Coast Longshore workers have voted 82 percent in favor of ratifying a new five-year contract with employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association.

“The negotiations for this contract were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “Membership unity and hard work by the Negotiating Committee made this fair outcome possible.”

The release continued:

The new agreement provides approximately 20,000 good-paying jobs in 29 West Coast port communities. The contract will maintain excellent health benefits, improve wages, pensions and job safety protections; limit outsourcing of jobs and provide an improved system for resolving job disputes.

Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy of the National Retail Association, issued a statement saying shippers and retailers can now “rest a bit easier” with improved stability in West Coast ports over the next few years. However, he also noted that it will not be “long before we go through this process all over again.”

“The past year was fraught with disruptions, slowdowns and partial shutdowns. This is something we will no longer tolerate. The world is changing, and our ports must adapt to ensure they provide shippers with the predictability and stability they need. We can no longer accept last-minute negotiations and months and months of talks while slowdowns and stoppages disrupt the global supply chain and international trade.

 

“Negotiators need to begin their talks early enough to have an agreement in place well before another contract expires without active or passive threats to the economy and the millions of jobs dependent on our nation’s ports and supply chain. The current process is impractical and unsustainable and fails to meet even the most basic requirements of a modern, global supply chain.

 

“A new process is needed for labor and management on both coasts. Stakeholders cannot afford to go through this process every couple of years. We need a new system in place that benefits all parties and provides for the efficient transportation of the nation’s cargo and commerce.”

The agreement comes on the heels of a longtime dispute that caused severe congestion for several months in the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and other major gateways.

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