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West Coast Dockworkers and Shipping Industry Reach Labor Agreement After Year-Long Standoff

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West Coast Dockworkers and Shipping Industry Reach Labor Agreement After Year-Long Standoff

Shipping containers wait to be transferred from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Oct. 14, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

9/1/2023

Updated: 9/1/2023

LOS ANGELES—The International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced on Aug. 31 that its members have ratified a six-year contract between the union and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing the shipping industry, after nearly a year of negotiations and discord that plagued West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Members of the union have voted to ratify and approve a tentative contract agreement that was previously reached in June with employers represented by the association, according to a statement from the union. Union members voted 75 percent in favor of approving the new contract.
Voting results were certified Thursday afternoon by the union’s Coast Balloting Committee, formed by Coast Longshore Division Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.
“The negotiations for this contract were protracted and challenging,” Willie Adams, president of the union, said in a statement. “I am grateful to our rank-and-file for their strength, to our negotiating committee for their vision and tenacity, and to those that supported giving the [union] and [association] the space that we needed to get this result.”
According to the union, the new agreement “protects good-paying jobs in 29 West Coast port communities, maintains health benefits, and improves wages, pensions, and safety protections.”
The union represents approximately 20,000 longshore and clerk workers on the West Coast.
The association’s President and CEO Jim McKenna issued a statement noting the contract, already approved by association member companies, is retroactive to July 1, 2022 and runs through July 1, 2028.
“This contract provides an important framework for the hard work ahead to overcome new competitive challenges and to continue to position the West Coast ports as destinations of choice for shippers worldwide,” Mr. McKenna said in a statement.
“From San Diego to Bellingham, these ports have long been the primary gateways for cargo coming into and leaving the United States, and our interests are aligned in ensuring they can effectively and efficiently handle the capacity growth that drives economies and jobs.”
A representative of the association wrote in an email to City News Service that they would not comment on the terms of the contract. The union did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding details of the contract.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported that “People familiar with the talks say the deal would give dockworkers a raise of $4.62 an hour in the first year of the contract—the equivalent of a 10 percent wage increase—plus an additional $2 an hour in each subsequent year.”
Following the announcement, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson issued a joint statement applauding the contract.
“Labor stability is critical to the success of the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, which moves nearly 40 percent of the nation’s containerized cargo,” according to the joint statement. “Together, the two ports handle more than $400 billion in trade that reaches all 435 Congressional districts and support 1 in 5 jobs in Long Beach and 1 in 9 jobs in Los Angeles.”
Ms. Bass expressed her gratitude for both organizations for working together to achieve a contract agreement that “puts people first while safeguarding our economy.”
L.A. City Councilman Tim McOsker, whose Council District 15 includes the Port of L.A., shared the mayor’s sentiments.
“This contract respects the hard work and skill of our dockworkers and their importance to our San Pedro Bay Complex,” Mr. McOsker said in a statement. “A ratified, coastwide agreement is good for our workers, the Port of Los Angeles and our country’s economy.”
Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of L.A., extended his gratitude with the leadership of both organizations, noting that the “collective bargaining system worked.”
“This contract brings long-term stability and confidence to our customers as we redouble our efforts to bring more cargo back to the Port of Los Angeles, the premier gateway to and from the Pacific Rim,” Mr. Seroka said in a statement.
The contract comes after nearly a year of negotiations that at times were somewhat tumultuous. The union and association had been in talks for months on a contract to replace the one that had expired July 1, 2022.
The union had claimed “from pre-pandemic levels through 2022, the percentage of [union] wages and benefits continued to drop compared to [the association’s] rising revenues.” While the association had accused the union of engaging in work slowdowns, leading to rolling closures of container terminals.
A tentative agreement was reached with assistance from acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su back in June.
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