Despite involvement of a federal mediator, the climate surrounding West Coast port labor contract negotiations is showing no improvement. The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) issued a Jan. 12 news release stating that congestion has worsened at the West Coast’s five largest ports due to slowdowns orchestrated by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The release also states that since the mediator joined the contract negotiations last week, “No further agreements have been reached and ILWU work slowdowns have continued to the point where many terminals are in peril of complete gridlock.”
In response, ILWU President Bob McEllrath told shipping industry news sources that union members are “Ready, willing and able to clear the cargo backlog created by the industry’s poor decisions, but (employers) are making nonsensical moves like cutting back on shifts at a critical time, creating gridlock in a cynical attempt to turn public opinion against workers. This creates an incendiary atmosphere during negotiations and does nothing to get us closer to an agreement.”
USMEF will provide further updates on the contract negotiations as more information becomes available.