No Progress Expected in West Coast Port Labor Negotiations until Next Month

The West Coast port labor situation further intensified this week, leaving little hope that it will be resolved anytime soon. In a Nov. 20 news release, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said its request to continue contract negotiations through the Thanksgiving holiday was rejected by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). While subcommittees will continue talks on a limited range of issues, PMA states that “big table” negotiations will not resume until Dec. 1.

Last week we reported that several ocean carriers had issued notices to shippers stating that they would implement congestion surcharges, beginning Nov. 17, on shipments arriving at West Coast ports. Carriers later announced that surcharges would also be applied to outbound shipments – albeit at a lower rate than for imported containers. But in response to pushback from customers and a Federal Maritime Commission notice raising questions about their validity, several carriers postponed implementation of these surcharges.

As we also noted last week, USMEF has signed on to a letter to President Obama in which a broad coalition of agricultural industry associations urged the White House to use all means at its disposal – including assignment of a federal mediator – to help bring the contract negotiations to a conclusion. The While House announced this week that while it is closely monitoring the negotiations, it has no plans to intervene at this time.

USMEF continues to monitor this situation carefully and will issue further updates as more information becomes available. If you have questions or want to provide additional input to USMEF on this matter, please email Paul Clayton or Dan Halstrom or call 303-623-6328.