On Jan. 5, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) issued a statement announcing that in response to a joint request from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), collective bargaining between the two parties will resume “as soon as possible under the auspices of the FMCS.”
Negotiations on a new ILWU-PMA labor contract began in May, and the existing contract expired July 1. With longshoreman working without a contract for more than six months, congestion at West Coast ports has become a growing problem and a major concern for U.S. meat exporters.
PMA issued a formal request for mediation on Dec. 22, but ILWU also had to agree to mediation before FMCS could intervene. That seemed unlikely over the holidays, as media exchanges between the two parties became increasingly contentious. So the FMCS announcement came as very welcome news to industries relying on the West Coast ports, as mediation will hopefully assist in bringing the contract negotiations to a close.