Tuesday, August 1, 2017

West Coast Longshore Agreement Warmly Welcomed by Port Operators

Promises Five Years of Stability
Shipping News Feature
US – The decision by West Coast longshore workers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington have to extend their collective bargaining agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for three years, has been warmly greeted by port operators. Early reporting from local unions indicates the contract extension will pass by 67% and the union’s Coast Balloting Committee will announce the official results on August 4. If ratified as expected, the extended ILWU-PMA agreement, which was scheduled to expire on July 1, 2019, will now expire on July 1, 2022, giving a five year window clear of labour disputes.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) voted on the contract extension proposal after a year of debate and voting in which every registered longshore worker from Bellingham, Washington, to San Diego, California, had a say. The contract extension will raise wages, maintain health benefits, and increase pensions. ILWU International President, Robert McEllrath, said:

“The ILWU was founded on principles of democracy, and the rank and file always have the last word on their contracts. There was no shortage of differing views in the year-long debate leading up to this vote, and members didn’t take this step lightly. In the end, the rank and file made the final decision to extend the contract for three years.”

Amongst the respondents to the unions decision were the Port of Oakland, where officials applauded the choice. Port of Oakland Executive Director, Chris Lytle, said:

“This shows that the West Coast means business when it comes to moving cargo for our customers. We’re the most efficient, timely and cost-effective gateway for international trade and with a contract extension, we’re also the most dependable.”

The Port said a contract extension would ease concerns about labour management disputes that can arise when waterfront contracts are negotiated. Since the last West Coast contract was signed in 2015, labour relations have been good and productivity high. Lytle continued:

“We feel that a decision to extend the contract reflects improving relations and performance up and down the West Coast.”