Progress in West Coast Port Talks
The Pacific Maritime Association said Monday afternoon that a “tentative agreement was reached on the chassis topic” with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union during contract talks on Sunday. A spokesman for the employer group Pacific Maritime Assn., also said earlier this week that the two sides came to a tentative deal over chassis — the trailers that truckers use to haul containers.
In the past, it was the norm for steamship lines to provide chassis to trucker. In recent years, many steamship lines have excited the business, selling their equipment to third party leasing companies. Unlike the shipping lines, the leasing companies do not have to negotiate with the dockworkers union, which has complicated matters in recent negotiations.
The details are the agreement have not yet been disclosed, and at this time it is not clear what issues remain. “We are hopeful that this will allow us to move toward conclusion of an agreement in the near term,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates. An ILWU spokesman said the union did not have a comment on the announcement. The jurisdiction over chassis maintenance and repair work has been a major issue in the contract talks in recent weeks.
The ongoing negotiations and uncertainties have created high levels of port congestion on the west coast. As of this past weekend, as many as 21 vessels were anchored outside of the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting for the docs to clear in order to berth. Southern California ports have begun using “contingency” anchorages because of heavy volume. If all contingency anchorage space fills up, the port will begin to use offshore “drift boxes.
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