Tentative Agreement Ends Workers Slowdowns and Stoppages that Crippled West Coast Ports
A tentative deal between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was announced Wednesday night, ending 14 days of worker slowdowns and stoppages that crippled port productivity.
The new contract is for six years and will cover workers at all 29 West Coast ports. No details of the deal’s terms were released.
“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.”
Both sides hailed the assistance from acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su, who CNBC confirmed was in San Francisco since Monday to help guide talks.
“This afternoon, the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association reached a tentative agreement covering 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports, demonstrating once again that collective bargaining — though sometimes difficult — works,” Su said in a statement.
Slowdowns and key labor not showing up slowed down the California ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. The Port of Seattle’s terminal SSA was forced to release workers early every day last week due to deliberate low worker productivity. The Port of Seattle was also completely closed Saturday.
Supply chain fears have been running high from trucking to rails and ocean carriers. Billions of dollars in cargo has been held up off ports, and container congestion and delays have led to longer service and turnaround times.
The ports, which are currently running at 70% capacity, will need several days to clear out the containers once a full labor force is back to work.
Logistics managers are not out of the woods yet as they wait to see if the ILWU Canada strikes. In a landslide vote, ILWU Canada workers authorized a strike at Canadian West Coast ports as early as June 24.
Also, low water levels at the Panama Canal, a key route for East Coast trade, have added costs to transit due to extra container fees imposed by the ocean carriers.
By: Lori Ann LaRocco / CNBC News