The good news: The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have announced they have reached a tentative agreement on healthcare benefits. The parties did not release the details of the bargain and stress it is subject to agreement on other issues still being negotiated. From the onset of negotiations, it was widely accepted healthcare and jurisdiction would be the most contested subjects. It’s progress.
More good news: The ILWU ratified a contract with grain handlers in the Pacific Northwest. This agreement puts to rest two years of discord in the PNW. While the details have not been made public, we do know it covers wage increases and work rule changes. This agreement is not part of the coast-wide ILWU/PMA contract, however, it has been a distraction as the ILWU/PMA negotiations were put on hold while the union dealt with the grain handlers. Let’s hope we can gain traction in the coast-wide contract now that this matter is behind us.
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The wildcard: The Port of Portland has given notice to the ILWU that the two disputed reefer jobs (plugging and unplugging refrigerated containers) are going back to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) due to continued, conscientious slowdowns by the ILWU. These two jobs have been in debate for two years and have involved the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), state governors and numerous arbitrations. In January 2014, the port allowed the ILWU to perform the tasks with the understanding productivity would improved, however, nine months later, productivity continues to suffer. The wildcard is whether or not this decision by Portland will negatively affect the coast-wide contract negotiations.