Tentative agreement reached on West Coast Port Labor contract

Impasse major concern for red meat exporters, especially those with chilled pork and beef departing the West Coast.

June 15, 2023

2 Min Read
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The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced a tentative agreement on a new six-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports. The deal was reached with assistance from Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su. The parties will not be releasing details of the agreement at this time. 

"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."

Since June 1, work stoppages have slowed cargo movement and at times effectively shut down some container terminals. U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom says the tentative contract agreement is tremendous news for U.S. red meat exporters and their overseas customers.

"This tentative agreement that's been reached with the West Coast longshoremen is paramount of importance for us," Halstrom says. "It's, you know, once again, a huge percentage of our business, especially the value-added chilled business, which is our highest value business for both beef and pork. It goes off the West Coast for our Asian markets: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China. These exporters and importers in these countries rely upon a certainty for stability in terms of their shipping logistics.

"And before this agreement was reached, there was a large level of uncertainty. Will my shipment be delayed? Will it be passed over and skip a week? These are the sorts of things that were implied since a year ago when the contract expired. So, this is good news in a sense of restoring that certainty and reliability that were known for a 52-weeks-a-year business to these various ports in Asia."

The tentative agreement must still be ratified by both sides, a process that could take several weeks, but the parties indicated that port operations are expected to return to normal. 

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