A dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), a group of West Coast terminal operators, is at an end following successful negotiations on a new contract, the parties say.
“After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Bob McEllrath in a joint statement (PDF). “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”
No details are being released at this time.
ILWU locals have already begun communicating the news to their members.
“Tonight, the ILWU and PMA reached a tentative agreement on a Coastwide Contract,” one local (Local 13, based in Southern California) announced on its website. “There will be more information relayed to the membership by the Coast Committee, Negotiating Committee and your Local Officers as soon as possible in accordance with the Coast Longshore Division By-Laws.”
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees as saying, “The agreement was unanimously approved by the negotiating committee — and they’d go to work tonight if they could.”
Elected officials hailed the announcement. Nearly every statement we’ve received thus far begins by calling the settlement “great news”.
“This is great news for the parties involved in the negotiation and a huge relief for our economy – particularly the countless American workers, farmers, and businesses that have been affected by the dispute and those facing even greater disruption and costs with further delays,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
“Helping resolve this dispute has been a top priority, and last weekend the President directed Labor Secretary Tom Perez to travel to California to meet with the parties to help them reach a resolution because further delays would have been harmful to these workers and the economy.”
“The President was kept updated on the negotiations over the past several weeks, including receiving an update last night from Secretary Perez. The President is grateful to Secretary Perez for his hard work bringing about a successful resolution to this dispute, and for the help of federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh. And he calls on the parties to work together to clear out the backlogs and congestion in the West Coast Ports as they finalize their agreement”
“This is great news for businesses and port workers all along the West Coast,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee in a statement sent to NPI.
“I want to thank the ILWU and the PMA for finding an agreement in principle tonight to settle the dispute that was damaging Washington’s economy. I also want to thank President Obama and Labor Secretary Perez for stepping in and helping get the parties to reach an agreement. I expect we will soon see Washington’s ports once again playing their essential role in our economy.”
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia voiced similar sentiments.
“Getting this deal done means our ports and our national economy will start moving again. This settlement is great news for our west coast ports, our local workforce, and businesses around the country,” he said.
“I want to personally thank the President and the Secretary of Labor for their effective intervention and leadership in helping the parties reach a resolution. I also want to thank my colleagues, the port city mayors, for their persistent engagement in this process, and the shippers and dockworkers for reaching this agreement.”
“Washington state’s ports play a critical role in creating jobs and growing the local economy, so I am glad that this agreement in principle was reached tonight to keep workers on the job and provide certainty for families and businesses,” said Washington’s senior U.S. Senator, Patty Murray. “I appreciate the commitment of the ILWU and the PMA to stay at the table and keep working until they reached an agreement, and I am very thankful to President Obama and Secretary Perez for their work helping the two sides come together to get this done.”
Media reports suggested that the final sticking point between the PMA and ILWU concerned provisions in the contract related to arbitration. Apparently that question has been settled to the mutual satisfaction of the ports and the union.
The agreement must be ratified by the ILWU’s membership as well as the PMA before it becomes final. The ILWU, founded in 1937, represents over thirty-seven thousand workers in the Pacific Coast states as well as British Columbia, Canada.
This post will be updated with more reaction as we get it.