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Progress Reported on West Coast Port Negotiations

Dan Ronan | Transport Topics

Apr 20, 2023

Parties Say Tentative Agreement Reached on 'Key Issues'

After nearly a year of negotiations, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and port management’s Pacific Maritime Association have reached a tentative agreement on what the union described as certain “key issues.”

While details on those issues were not disclosed in an April 20 statement from the union, it offered a glimmer of hope that an end may come to months of labor uncertainty at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and 27 other West Coast port and warehouse facilities.

“This is welcome news,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero told Transport Topics. “I have been awaiting a signal they are making progress toward a resolution of the contract. Things are on the upbeat and we’re very optimistic. Based on what we’ve heard, I think we could see this finalized in 30 days. I’m not privy to the negotiations, but this is encouraging.”

The union in its statement said talks will continue until a full agreement has been reached.

Negotiations have been ongoing since May 10, and progress has been made along the way; in late July negotiators reached tentative agreement on terms for maintenance of 22,000 ILWU workers’ health care plans. Still, the negotiations have not been without issues. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports closed due to what PMA said were widespread worker shortages. Management accused the ILWU Local 13 of withholding workers for their shifts starting April 6.

The union denied the allegations and said there was no formal work action. It insisted that thousands of union members had been attending a union meeting that day and that the next day — Good Friday — some workers took time off to observe Easter.

“On April 7, 2023, union members who observe religious holidays took the opportunity to celebrate with their families,” ILWU said in a statement. “Cargo operations are ongoing as longshore workers at the ports remain on the job.”

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