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Update on West Coast Labor Contract Ratification, Port Congestion

On April 3, delegates from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) voted to recommend approval of the tentative labor contract agreement reached in late February between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association.

According to an ILWU news release, 78 percent of the 90 delegates participating in last week’s coastwide caucus voted to recommend approval of the five-year contract proposal, which covers about 20,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports. ILWU will now conduct a secret-ballot vote among its entire membership on whether to ratify the contract, with the results expected to be finalized by May 22. Shipping industry analysts expect ILWU members to approve the contract, and the Pacific Maritime Association’s membership is also expected to have ratified the contract by that date.

Major West Coast ports are reporting good progress in clearing the backlog that accumulated during the recent labor dispute, but some delays are still being encountered – especially in the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex. Exporters utilizing the Port of Oakland may also be impacted by lingering congestion in Southern California, as vessels are still arriving off-schedule from Los Angeles and Long Beach. On a positive note, however, the Port of Oakland reported this week that several shipping companies that had been omitting stops in Oakland in order to return to Asia on schedule have resumed their services in Oakland, and more are expected to return by the end of April.