It appears as though a deal has been reached to get West Coast ports back to full operation. U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced the tentative deal in a Friday night conference call. As reported on Seattlepi.com, the five-year agreement still needs to be voted on by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, but the ILWU negotiators are recommending that the 20,000 dockworkers in the union ratify the deal.
In a statement issued Saturday morning, the North American Meat Institute said the “NAMI and U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association are gratified to hear the news that negotiations have finally concluded after nine months in the labor dispute between the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association.”
The NAMI statement went on to say the dispute and resulting slowdowns have cost the meat, poultry, hide, skin and leather industries an estimated $85 million a week.
National Pork Producers Council CEO Neil Dierks had said in a mid-February interview with the National Hog Farmer that even once a deal is reached that it would take 45 to 60 days to get port operations back to normal. Dierks says he had learned that normally about 30 containers per hour per crane would be loaded, while during the slow-down, only about 17 containers per hour were being loaded per crane in operation.
“The meat and poultry, hide, skin and leather industries have been feeling the pain of this dispute for far too long,” NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter says, in the NAMI statement. “It is time to put this crisis behind us and reopen the lines of trade with our partners around the world.”
The NAMI statement also says that Congress and the White House need to look for ways to avoid this situation in the future, because both coasts’ labor contracts expire in both 2017 and 2019.