US West coast dockworkers ratify contract

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by Emily Atkins

US West Coast dockworkers have voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement reached in June with employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) voted 75 percent in favour of approving the new six-year agreement that will expire on July 1, 2028. Voting results were certified by the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee, which was chosen by Coast Longshore Division Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.

The agreement came about after 13 months of negotiations.

“The negotiations for this contract were protracted and challenging,” said ILWU international president Willie Adams.

“I am grateful to our rank and file for their strength, to our Negotiating Committee for their vision and tenacity, and to those that supported giving the ILWU and PMA the space that we needed to get to this result.”

The new agreement protects jobs in 29 West Coast port communities, maintains health benefits, and improves wages, pensions and safety protections, the union said.

“This contract provides an important framework for the hard work ahead to overcome new competitive challenges and to continue to position the West Coast ports as destinations of choice for shippers worldwide,” said PMA president and CEO Jim Mckenna in a sttement.

“From San Diego to Bellingham, these ports have long been the primary gateways for cargo coming into and leaving the United States, and our interests are aligned in ensuring they can effectively, and efficiently, handle the capacity growth that drives economies and jobs.’’

At ILWU’s meeting presenting the tentative contract to its workers, Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka said the contract comes against a backdrop of continued growth in container volume on the West Coast. He said the American economy is resilient and the fear of recession some economists predicted is not going to materialize. He also noted the importance of California’s recently passed infrastructure package which includes $1.5 billion in funding for infrastructure in California’s 11 municipal ports.

PMA works on behalf of its member companies, who are among the world’s leading shipping lines and terminal operators.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Coast Longshore Division represents approximately 20,000 longshore and clerk workers on the West Coast of the United States.