Negotiations Underway on West Coast Port Labor Contract

On Monday, May 12, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) opened negotiations on a new labor contract covering ports in California, Oregon and Washington.

At a recent forum sponsored by the Journal of Commerce, Jim McKenna, PMA president and chief negotiator, expressed confidence that a new contract agreement could be reached by mid to late July. Even this optimistic timeline creates some nervousness for companies moving cargo overseas, however, given that the current contract expires July 1.

But McKenna stated that the two sides should be able to avoid a lockout or strike. He downplayed concerns expressed by some business groups regarding the May 12 start date, explaining that if negotiations had begun in March, the lack of urgency would have prevented progress until the current contract’s expiration date drew closer.

USMEF will provide further updates on the contract negotiations as more details become available.