The contract negotiations between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) are not going well. On November 20th, the ILWU put the negotiations on hiatus until December 2nd and rejected the PMA’s request for a contract extension. These actions caused a wave of anxiety for West Coast shippers… and motor carriers!
The two sides have also begun sparring in the press.
Industry groups have written to the president and met with administration officials in hopes of bringing in a federal mediator to assist with the stalled negotiations. The president’s response, “Just last year, there was a long negotiation at the East and Gulf Coast ports,” Frank Benenati, a White House spokesman, said in an e-mail [to Bloomberg News] today [November 18]. “And just as the two sides in that case were able to resolve their differences through the time-tested process of collective bargaining, we’re confident that management and labor at the West Coast ports can do the same.”
Confidence in the bargain process…really?!?!?! This is an incredibly unhelpful and uninformed statement. When the ILA and USMX negotiated their contract covering East and Gulf Coast ports last year, the sides did indeed request the assistance of a federal mediator. The mediator’s involvement was pivotal in reaching an agreement.
In lieu of assistance and progress, we are confident the work slowdowns, work stoppages and labor shortages will continue.