Posted on

Ports hail longshore contract extension

The Pacific Maritime Association says it has reached a three-year contract extension with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union hopefully preventing any work slowdowns like one three years ago that damaged agricultural and non-agricultural exports and the U.S. economy.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have agreed to a three-year extension of their current contract, which was due to expire in 2019.

PMA President James McKenna announced the extension July 28, saying PMA proposed a contract extension earlier in the year with the intent to create long term certainty for West Coast ports and all stakeholders. The PMA negotiates labor agreements on behalf of port operators.

Early voting returns show strong ILWU support for our proposal, which would ensure labor stability through 2022. This historic agreement will be great news for the maritime industry, as well as our customers, workers, port communities and the U.S. economy, McKenna said in a released statement.

The extension is subject to final confirmation by the ILWU and is expected next week, he said. It covers workers at all 29 West Coast container ports.

Agricultural exporters are greatly relieved that we have now removed one of the primary motivations for the West Coast meltdown of a few years ago, Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition in Washington, D.C., told Capital Press.

Inability of the ILWU and PMA to reach a new contract three years ago led to a months-long union work slowdown that cost farmers, manufacturers and retailers across the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars in losses because they could not get exported or imported goods to market.

Last November, U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert and Dan Newhouse, both R-Wash., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., renewed their plea for the PMA and ILWU to work together to avoid another slowdown.

They said the 2014-2015 disruption cost the U.S. economy an estimated $7 billion. Growers dumped spoiled produce, manufacturers were delayed in getting parts and retailers had empty shelves, the representatives wrote in a letter to PMA and ILWU.

Read the full story in the Capitol Press here.