Tentative agreement ends worker slowdowns and stoppages that crippled West Coast ports

Excerpted from cnbc.com, published THU, JUN 15 2023 6:20 AM EDT, by Lori Ann LaRocco


  • Tentative deal ends 14 days of worker slowdowns and stoppages that crippled port productivity.
  • The six-year tentative agreement covers 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports.
  • No details of the deal’s terms were released.
  • West Coast port congestion will take days to clear out
  • A tentative deal between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was announced Wednesday night, ending 14 days of worker slowdowns and stoppages that crippled port productivity.
  • The new contract is for six years and will cover workers at all 29 West Coast ports. No details of the deal’s terms were released.
  • “We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Willie Adams in a joint statement. “We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”
  • Both sides hailed the assistance from acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su, who CNBC confirmed was in San Francisco since Monday to help guide talks.
  • “This afternoon, the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association reached a tentative agreement covering 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports, demonstrating once again that collective bargaining — though sometimes difficult — works,” Su said in a statement.
  • Slowdowns and key labor not showing up slowed down the California ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. The Port of Seattle’s terminal SSA was forced to release workers early every day last week due to deliberate low worker productivity. The Port of Seattle was also completely closed Saturday.
  • Supply chain fears have been running high from trucking to rails and ocean carriers. Billions of dollars in cargo has been held up off ports, and container congestion and delays have led to longer service and turnaround times.
  • The ports, which are currently running at 70% capacity, will need several days to clear out the containers once a full labor force is back to work.
  • Logistics managers are not out of the woods yet as they wait to see if the ILWU Canada strikes. In a landslide vote, ILWU Canada workers authorized a strike at Canadian West Coast ports as early as June 24.
  • Also, low water levels at the Panama Canal, a key route for East Coast trade, have added costs to transit due to extra container fees imposed by the ocean carriers.

PMA, ILWU Agree to Cooling Off Period

Julie Su, nominee for Labor Secretary, meets with ILWU and PMA, and parties agree to cooling off period and work normally on the West Coast during negotiations.

PMA Accuses ILWU Of Coast-Wide Disruptions of West Coast Ports

Excerpted from AJOT.com, by Stas Margarines Jun 02, 2023

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) says the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) “is staging concerted and disruptive work actions that have effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals” At West Coast Ports on June 2nd.

The Full Statement PMA provided to AJOT reads as follows:

“Today, the ILWUI is staging concerted and disruptive work actions that have effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The union is also staging similar work actions that have shut down or severely impacted terminal operations at the Ports of Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Hueneme.”

ILWU Local 13 representing longshore workers at Los Angeles and Long Beach issued the following rationale:

“On June 2nd, 2023, the rank-and-file members of the Southern California ILWU has taken It upon themselves to voice their displeasure with the ocean carriers’ and terminal operators’ position. However, cargo operations in the ports continue as longshore workers remain on the job to move the nation’s cargo, as they have done valiantly for decades.”

The Local 13 statement explained that the “ocean carriers and terminal operators have thumbed their noses at the work forces’ basic requests, insinuating that the health risks and loss of lives these working people endured during the pandemic did not matter to them and they were expendable in the name of profits. The work forces’ requests are not outlandish: they are basic requests that will ensure that the workforce is treated with dignity and respect that they have fought so hard to earn.”

A source at the Port of Los Angeles told AJOT that the situation was “spotty with the steadies arriving at work but not casuals so that it is a hit and miss situation at marine terminals at Los Angeles and Long Beach this morning.”

Port Of Oakland

Meanwhile at the Port of Oakland, Oakland International Container Terminal, which accounts for two thirds of the port’s volume, reported a work stoppage: “OICT will not be working today 6.2.23 on the first shift. We are not sure, at this time, when normal work will resume. We are not being provided ILWU labor at this time. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.”

Previous Signs Were Positive

Up until this point, there had been positive signs that a labor agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) was imminent after talks have dragged on for almost a year.

In his May media briefing, Eugene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles said: “I believe that we’re on the doorstep of a tentative agreement. Both sides are spending a lot of time at the negotiating table, and I’m optimistic we’ll hear good news soon. A tentative agreement would be a welcome development for customers who have been diverting cargo elsewhere. Resolving this issue will send a clear signal of stability.”

Did The ILWU Overplay Its Hand?

One terminal executive told AJOT that the ILWU may have “overplayed its hand” by not agreeing to a contract last July 2022 when ocean carriers and maritime terminals were flush with cash during the pandemic when freight rates and container volumes were soaring.

The dragging on of negotiations into 2023 means that a wage and benefit package will be far less generous because marine terminals on the West Coast are reporting major drops in volumes that may persist until 2024, the source said.

There have also been concerns expressed that the delay in reaching a contract was motivated by a mistaken focus by some ILWU leaders on dismantling existing automation at terminals and electrification projects that could not be overturned. This has resulted in substantial cargo being diverted away from the West Coast ports and towards East and Gulf Coast ports. In turn this has resulted in a loss of business and longshore work.

California Exporter Goes East

One California agricultural exporter said his company is now utilizing a rail service to ship products to East Coast ports for export. The service bypasses West Coast ports. The exporter blamed the uncertain labor atmosphere created by the ILWU over the last ten years for the decision.

West Coast port labor talks

ILWU, PMA reach tentative deal on ‘certain key issues’

Excerpted from SupplyChainDive.com

Contract talks remain ongoing as the two sides near the one-year mark since negotiations began.

Published April 20, 2023

Edwin Lopez, Managing Editor

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said in a press release Thursday negotiators had reached a tentative deal on “certain key issues” with the Pacific Maritime Association.

The longshore union did not specify which issues the new tentative agreements cover and declined to share further comments.

The news marks the first deal publicly announced since July 26, when the two sides said they had reached a tentative agreement on the maintenance of health benefits. Prior to the start of talks in May, port employers had said continuing to offer longshore workers with “world-class wages and benefits” was one of five principles guiding the PMA in contract talks.

Other principles include: avoiding work disruptions; prioritizing safety and training; “modernizing” terminals through densification and automation; and preparing to meet “stringent” environmental regulations, according to the PMA website.

The two parties began negotiating a new master contract in May 2022. Longshore workers and port terminals have been operating without an active contract since the old working agreement expired last July. Contract negotiations cover more than 22,000 longshore workers at 29 ports across the U.S. West Coast.

The ILWU reiterated “talks are continuing on an ongoing basis until an agreement is reached,” in its Thursday morning press release. The union had said the two sides were “hopeful of reaching a deal soon” in February.

Los Angeles, Long Beach port terminals shut down due to labor issues

Excerpted from SupplyChainDive.com, April 7, 2023

Terminals at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach have effectively shut down as a result of a local longshore labor action that began Thursday evening.

The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents West Coast port employers, said a local union at the twin ports withheld some labor for the evening shift on Thursday, leading to widespread labor shortages that halted operations. The actions have continued, leading to closures on Friday morning as well.

“The action by the Union has effectively shut down the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – the largest gateway for maritime trade in the United States,” the PMA said in a statement.

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement four of the port’s container terminals are closed for the full day, noting that terminal operators shut down after workers did not report for the day.

“We have no further information as to the situation, but it is expected that normal, regularly scheduled hours and operations will resume tomorrow,” said Cordero.

The Port of Los Angeles said in a statement it is working with stakeholders, including federal officials, to “support a return to normal operations in the San Pedro Bay.”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dockworkers across the West Coast, declined to comment, referring inquiries to ILWU Local 13. The local union did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Port disruptions come at a tough time for the nation’s largest port complex, which continues to lose market share as shippers shift volumes elsewhere to avoid potential disruption from ongoing negotiations. While union leaders and port employers had insisted no major disruption would result from the talks, a lack of an enforceable contract has led to smaller disputes and other limited disruptions over the past year.

“These actions undermine confidence in West Coast ports and threaten to further accelerate the diversion of discretionary cargo to Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. The health of the Southern California and state economy depend on the ability of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to stem this market share erosion,” the PMA said.

Several logistics providers have warned their customers of potential delays and disruptions in light of the action at the San Pedro Bay ports.

“If your container was scheduled to be pulled last night, today, or over the weekend, expect delays in pulling the container. If your empty has not yet returned, expect delayed empty returns and unfortunately additional charges,” Ian Weiland, chief operating officer at Junction Collaborative Transports, said on LinkedIn.

Maersk, meanwhile, said in a customer advisory four of its vessel services — TP6 Maersk Eureka, TP8 Maersk Antares, WCCA Maersk Newcastle and TP2 MSC Livorno — had been affected by the work actions. The ocean liner said that ILWU Local 13 crane operators and top handler drivers “decided to reject their job assignments that were ordered by the employers for the evening’s second shift, impacting all Los Angeles and Long Beach terminals.”

Port disruption also come ahead of Easter Sunday on April 9, which is an ILWU holiday. At least one terminal, Long Beach Container Terminal, has marked its truck gates as closed for the holiday.

Sarah Zimmerman contributed to this story.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2023


PMA: news@pmanet.org, 415-576-3244

ILWU Coast Longshore Division: Jennifer Sargent Bokaie, jennifer@ilwu.org, 503-703-2933

ILWU-PMA Update on Contract Talks

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 23, 2023) – The international Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced today that they continue to negotiate and remain hopeful of reaching a deal soon. The parties have agreed not to discuss negotiations in the media as collective bargaining continues.

Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement covering more than 22,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports began on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in San Francisco. The parties have reached a tentative agreement on certain key issues, including health benefits, and remain committed to resolving remaining issues as expeditiously as possible. Talks are continuing on an ongoing basis until an agreement is reached.

Negotiations are not open to the media or the public, and news articles purporting to know what is happening at the bargaining table are speculative at best. During negotiations, West Coast ports have continued to operate.

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