The slowdowns by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) at major US West Coast ports need to stop because the terminals cannot withstand any more, James McKenna, President & CEO of Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) urged.
Seeking to break the deadlock in stalled West Coast longshore negotiations, the PMA has made an “all-in” contract offer that would increase compensation to members of the ILWU.
The offer proposes a rise in full-time ILWU workers’s wages of 3 percent per year, along with fully paid health care that costs employers USD 35,000 per worker per year. The ILWU workers earn an average of USD 147,000 per year.
The maximum ILWU pension would rise to USD 88,800 per year as part of the proposed five-year contract, PMA said.
“We are trully close to a gridlock. And long-term, these actions undermine the credibility of the West Coast ports in an environment that is going to become more competitive with the expansion of the Panama Canal and the increase in trade to the East Coast through the Suez Canal,” McKenna said calling for conclusion of the negotiations.
“I hope the ILWU leadership will give very serious consideration to this contract offer, which I believe respects their members and gives us a clear path to conclude these talks. We owe it to workers and businesses across the nation to resolve our differences and get our ports moving again.”
According to McKenna, ILWU slowdowns have cut productivity by as much as 30, 40, even 50 percent.
PMA said that its offer also meets the ILWU’s two biggest demands: maintenance of their Cadillac health benefits – which feature no worker premiums, no co-pays and no deductibles for in-network benefits – as well as jurisdiction over maintenance and repair of truck chassis.
The resulting contract offer calls for a cost increase of roughly five percent each year over the life of the five-year contract.
“Despite four weeks of participation by a federal mediator, the parties have not yet been able to bridge the considerable gaps between them. The Union has recently made significant new demands, and is also insisting on changes to the decades-long process for selecting arbitrators – trying to change the rules on the waterfront in their favor, giving them the ability to unilaterally remove arbitrators who rule against them,” PMA added.
A public statement regarding the state of contract negotiations from James McKenna, PMA President & CEO, is available below: