The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) called upon the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to agree to a temporary contract extension while the two parties continue to work on a new agreement, to avoid gridlocks as holiday shipping season starts to gear up.
PMA said it was deeply concerned about the operational situation at the major ports along the West Coast, adding that the ILWU’s slowdown actions threaten West Coast port competitiveness, complicating an already challenging holiday shipping season.
“For the sake of our economy, we call upon the ILWU to agree to a temporary contract extension while we continue to work on a new agreement,” PMA spokesman Wade Gates said. “A contract extension and a full return to work will give everyone – from shippers to consumers – the confidence that is needed before the critical holiday shopping season.”
According to PMA, in recent days, longshoremen on several shifts have walked off the job in Oakland, shutting down their terminals for the remainder of the shift.
In ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where growing congestion has been a recognized issue for some time, the ILWU continues to short-shift crews by withholding qualified yard crane operators, PMA added.
“These actions – slowing down, walking off the job and not sending the crews that are needed –will continue to push the West Coast ports closer and closer to outright gridlock,” said Gates.
“With two weeks before Black Friday, the last thing our economy needs is a shutdown.”
ILWU and PMA representatives continue to meet daily in contract negotiations.