The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) will sit down today and tomorrow to discuss an early contract extension.  The current contract expires June 30, 2019…a mereilwu-in-action-oakland 2.5 years from now.

Given the turmoil we encountered during the last contact negotiation, all stakeholders as well as the US Congress are pushing for a speedy and amicable extension.


It has been a difficult summer. The on-going labor shortages in Oakland have negatively affected terminal operations and, therefore, driver productivity.
However, hope is on the horizon. The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) has agreed to promote 100 casual to registered longshore status and hire an additional 400 casual laborers.
This news is welcomed by all using the Port of Oakland.

ILWU in Action 002



” The Coast negotiating team continues to meet in an effort to reach a fair contract that provides security for its rank and file and stability for the industry despite the propaganda and threats from PMA.  I urge the membership to stay strong and united and ignore PMA’s propaganda. Together we will prevail.”


Bobby Olvera, Jr.     Mondo Porras     Mark Williams

President                  Vice President    Secretary/Treasurer

Posted on the ILWU Local 13 website



uupdateThe Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) issued the above statement today regarding the status of their contract negotiations with International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU).

As we know and have been suffering through, the contract expired July 1, 2014.  Negotiations began in May 2014 but have not been going well.  The two sides agreed to federal mediation on January 5, 2015. The high hopes for the mediator being able to bring both sides to an expeditious agreement were soon dash when the both the PMA and ILWU began to issue competing press releases.

Meanwhile, terminal operations continue to suffer, vessels are delayed and skipping ports of call and cargo owners are actively pursuing alternative gateways.

To watch the video click here.


chassisAfter months of bickering across the table and in the press, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) have announced they have reached a tentative agreement on the maintenance and repair of chassis. What the agreement entails remains a complete mystery.

Did the PMA grant the ILWU’s request to inspect, flag and repair chassis before leaving the marine terminals? Many in the industry think so. Similar language was part of the East Coast longshore labor contract and has led to corruption and payoffs to keep chassis moving.  Is that the type of operating environment we can expect moving forward?  We certainly hope not, but that’s what you get when folks who do not own the asset negotiate its maintenance and repair.  Trucking industry groups have said they are looking into legal action should these inspections take place.

The remaining topics up for negotiation are wages, pensions and the length of the contract.  It was widely presumed the contract would be reduced to three years this go around as a way of deferring the discussion on the Obamacare “Cadillac” tax set for collection in 2018.  As part of the Affordable Care Act, “Cadillac” healthcare plans are subject to a tax. In the case of the ILWU’s $0 premium participation, $0 co-pay and $1 for prescriptions, the tax would be $150M per year.  The ILWU does not want its members to absorb this tax and the PMA members cannot afford to do so.  Hence the presumption this subject was “kicked down the road” in hopes a new administration and new legislature may amend the law and tax structure.


orangeThe unresolved contract between the ILWU and PMA has resulted in not only damage to the psyche of the West Coast shipper but also to the businesses and products shipped.

Even before the labor negotiations soured, shippers had grown weary of the congestion on the West Coast. With the increasing delays and inability to get their products to market, whether import or export, they are exploring alternative gateways.  Houston has been bantered about quite a bit lately.

This news is not good for California.  Once cargo is diverted, it may never come back.  Worse yet, export commodities are sitting at processing facilities, in warehouses or in containers up and down the state. Each one of these shipments represents a sale to an overseas buyer.  If the buyer is unable to get their hands on the cargo, or it arrives in a damaged state due to idling and longer transit times, they will seek out alternative suppliers in other parts of the world…we are not the only ones who grow things, after all. Once a customer finds a different supplier, they may never come back to their California grower.

Reliability is woefully missing and desperately needed.


134After a long holiday break in negotiations, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) returned to the bargaining table yesterday afternoon.  The two sides were reportedly far from an agreement, and the ILWU finally agreed with the PMA to bring in a federal mediator. An official request was sent to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) who responded they would be sending “Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, a senior FMCS mediator with extensive collective bargaining experience in this industry.”  Click here to read the FMCS press release on the subject.

As is customary, the FMCS will continue the “gag order” already in place.

The request to bring in a federal mediator is a welcomed, yet long overdue, turn of events.  The recent exchange of press releases tells us negotiations were not going well and something had to be done.

The ILWU called for PMA member companies to sit at the negotiating table (press release here) as well as invited US Congresswoman (D) Janice Hahn to speak to members at their hiring hall (CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO).

mediator video

The PMA, on the other hand, called on ILWU leadership to stop withholding skilled workers (press release here) and posted a fact sheet outlining the labor shortage in place by the ILWU since early November (fact sheet here).

The situation was taking a turn for the ugly.  The BNSF began holding westbound trains headed for marine facilities on the West Coast, and in response to the labor shortages and work slowdowns, the PMA announced terminals in Oakland and LA/LB would not be ordering labor for nighttime vessel operations. Since the land side of marine terminals are severely congested, they will meter vessel operations in order to attempt to get the current bottleneck of cargo under control.
We are hopeful the use of a federal mediator will bring calm to the volatile theater.  We are also hopeful Mr. Beckenbaugh will insist both side return to normal operations while contract terms are negotiated.


38The 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.

Here are two PMA press releases Nov 13 and Nov 20.

Here are two ILWU press releases Nov 3 and Nov 10.

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.

Ushering in 2014

Up Close Truck 012We are excited to usher in a new year.  It may sound crazy, but we’re looking forward to another year of changes and challenges as those are things that make logistics fun.

One notable change for 2014:  A significant California Air Resources Board (CARB) drayage truck retirement deadline went into effective January 1, 2014.  In order to serve any of the ocean and rail terminals in the state, one must be driving a model-year engine 2007 or newer truck. 

One notable challenge for 2014:  The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the employer group, Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), expires on June 30, 2014.  It is expected jurisdiction will be a key factor in the discussions.  The ILWU sees every job performed at the marine terminals as a job belonging to the ILWU.  We have seen several battles over the jurisdiction of jobs on both coasts over the past year which have resulted in work stoppages and legal action.