The contract governing dockworkers on the US West Coast expired today without a new contract in place. It was widely predicted the contract between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) would not be concluded before the expiration of the previous contract. So, we are not surprised by this development.
Both sides have been very quiet on the progress of negotiations. There has been no battle in the press. There has been no public banter at all. We take that as a positive sign. If negotiations were going poorly, we would be hearing saber rattling for sure.
While we have not seen a walk off during the negotiations thus far, we are seeing a shortage of labor. As the regular longshore workers go on vacation, typical in June, there are not enough casuals to fill the open slots. Such shortages create queues, congestion, long turn times and hamper productivity.
In the May edition of our newsletter, we covered the two most significant negotiation topics, jurisdiction over waterfront jobs and the pending tax on the union’s “Cadillac” healthcare plan. Click here for a refresher.