Shipping industry observers are hopeful that the tentative agreement reached last week between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association will have a positive impact on the ongoing contract negotiations between ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
The grain handlers are not members of PMA, so the two contracts are entirely separate. But federally mediated meetings between ILWU and the grain handlers caused a number of interruptions in the ILWU-PMA negotiations over the past few weeks. So with this contract tentatively settled, the ILWU-PMA negotiations could make better progress.
The ILWU-PMA negotiations began in mid-May and affect 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington. Closure or excessive delays at these ports would present serious problems for U.S. meat exporters. The previous labor contract expired July 1, but both sides have pledged to keep West Coast ports operating until an agreement is reached.