More than 100 delegates from 30 West Coast ports, who were elected by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), voted on August 9 to discuss with representatives of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) the possible contract extension between the ILWU and PMA.
By majority vote, delegates participating in a caucus in San Francisco, decided to consider a request by the PMA, a group representing port employers on the West Coast, regarding the possibility of an extension of the 2014-2019 collective bargaining agreement.
“The caucus made a tough decision under current circumstances amid a wide range of concerns and opposing views on how to respond to PMA’s request. This is a directive to go and have discussions with the PMA and report back to the membership, and we’ll do just that, with the wellbeing of the rank and file, our communities, and the nation in mind.” Robert McEllrath, ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said.
In 2015, US West Coast ports were hit by prolonged contract disputes between PMA and the ILWU, which led to significant drops in the ports’ cargo volumes.
The current five-year contract covers 20,000 longshore workers and runs through July 1, 2019.
Ratified in May 2015, the contract was said to feature an enhanced arbitration system that is designed to support waterfront stability, capacity and productivity. It includes a health-care plan as well as wage and pension increases for ILWU members.