West Coast Operators and Dockworkers Reach Resolution to Contract Dispute
February 23, 2015
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) representing the West Coast operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) representing the dockworkers reached an agreement on the labor contract by President Obama’s deadline on Friday, February 20, 2015. In an attempt to speed up the negotiations, President Obama sent Labor Secretary Tom Perez to the West Coast to assist in the discussions since the two sides have been at odds since their contract ended last June. If they had not met the President’s deadline, the negotiations would have been moved to Washington, D.C. While the PMA and ILWU are not disclosing the details of the agreement, the new contract will last for five years and both sides stated that they “are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry.”
The twenty-nine West Coast Ports move $1 trillion worth of cargo annually and the disagreement between the operators and dockworkers has stalled the transport of goods through the ports. White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated that the agreement “is great news for the parties involved in the negotiation and a huge relief for our economy -- particularly the countless American workers, farmers and businesses that have been affected by the dispute and those facing even greater disruption and costs within further delays”.
However, while the agreement may bring relief to the West Coast ports and various producers and consumers around the globe, there is still progress to be made. The Union still needs to vote on the contract. Additionally, it will take time for the ports to return to their prior efficiency levels. While Secretary Penny Pritzker of the United States Department of Commerce believes that the agreement “provides certainty and keeps our ports open for business,” she also stated that “the parties must work together to clear the backlog quickly so that we continue to demonstrate why America is the best place in the world to do business.”
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