PMA offers contract to longshoremen in attempt to avert lockout

by Canadian Shipper

SAN FRANCISCO, Cal.–The U.S. West Coast employers Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) CEO James McKenna has made public the “comprehensive” employers’ contract offer to US west coast longshoremen, to head off closure of ports from southern California to northern Washington state.

The PMA offer to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) includes an agreement by employers to continue paying 100% of dockers’ medical costs, including the Cadillac tax under ObamaCare. The employers’ proposal would increase annual pension payments of up to US$88,800 a year, in a contract proposed to run for five years, said a release.

ILWU president Robert McEllrath responded that there should be no need for a lockout or strike because an agreement is “extremely close.”

McKenna said no one wants a lockout, but with ports at the point of gridlock and most vessels in the transpacific trades stuck on the west coast, the system will soon shut itself down.

There are six “open” contract issues that must be resolved, including details of the employers’ offers on wages and pensions that the ILWU must sign off on.

One of the issues that employers find especially troubling is a new demand by the ILWU that arbitrators can be unilaterally fired by either the ILWU or the PMA.

If employers do call a lockout, it would set in motion a process that could lead to US President Barack Obama invoking an 80-day cooling off period under Taft-Hartley. President Bush invoked Taft-Hartley when the PMA lockout in 2002 reached 10 days, said the release.

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