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ILWU and PMA reach ‘tentative agreement’ on US West Coast dockworkers contract

Port of LA Stacked containers in port of Los Angeles
Dockworker unions on the US West Coast represented by the International Longshore & Warehouse (ILWU) and employers by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have reached a tentative agreement on a new collect bargaining agreement.

The tentative agreement is for a new six-year contract covering dockworkers at all 29 ports on the US West Coast and is subject to ratification by both parties.

News of the tentative agreement comes after the intervention of US Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, who flew to San Francisco this week to get negotiations back on track after they stalled at the beginning of June.

“This afternoon, the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association reached a tentative agreement covering 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports, demonstrating once again that collective bargaining — though sometimes difficult — works,” a statement by the Act Labor Secretary said.

“Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of the leadership of the ILWU and the PMA, the tentative agreement delivers important stability for workers, for employers and for our country’s supply chain. This important milestone is welcome news to all, and on behalf of President Biden, we are pleased to congratulate both parties on what they have achieved.”

PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Willie Adams, said in a joint statement: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating.

“We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”

The two parties said they would not be releasing details of the agreement at this time.

The previous contract between longshoremen and US West Coast ports expired on 1 July 2022, and negotiations on a potential new deal have dragged on since 10 May 2022.

There were increasing concerns that the continued failure to reach a new agreement could see a repeat of a situation like that seen in 2002 when a lockout by the PMA in response to ILWU worker slowdowns led to an 11-day closure of the ports on the US West Coast. Recent weeks have seen worker slowdowns at ports across the US West Coast including the closure of container terminals in the Port of Seattle last weekend