September 4, 2023
West Coast port workers have voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement reached in June with employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). According to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), its members voted 75% in favor of approving the new six-year agreement that will expire on July 1, 2028.
“The negotiations for this contract were protracted and challenging,” ILWU International President Willie Adams said in a statement. “I am grateful to our rank and file for their strength, to our Negotiating Committee for their vision and tenacity, and to those that supported giving the ILWU and PMA the space that we needed to get to this result.”
The new agreement, already approved by PMA member companies, is retroactive to July 1, 2022, and runs through July 1, 2028. ILWU said it protects jobs in 29 West Coast port communities, maintains health benefits, and improves wages, pensions and safety protections.
PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna said the contract “provides an important framework for the hard work ahead to overcome new competitive challenges and to continue to position the West Coast ports as destinations of choice for shippers worldwide.”
He continued, “From San Diego to Bellingham, these ports have long been the primary gateways for cargo coming into and leaving the United States, and our interests are aligned in ensuring they can effectively, and efficiently, handle the capacity growth that drives economies and jobs.’’
U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom said the vote is “really good news” for red meat exporters because it will bring stability to the West Coast ports and eliminate concerns about work stoppages and interruptions.
Halstrom is also hopeful that West Coast ports can regain some of the import cargo business it had lost due to the rocky negotiations and resulting disruptions.
“Over the last year in particular, the West Coast has been losing discretionary business, on the import side especially, losing to the Gulf and East Coasts,” he explained. “Part of the reason for that was the uncertainty around the whole contract situation on the West Coast. So hopefully, Long Beach and Oakland and these key export ports for us can regain some of that business and have a larger array of options from a schedule standpoint into some of our key markets like Japan and Korea.”
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