ILWU says has tentative deal with PMA on ‘key issues,’ but withholds details
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on Thursday said it had reached a “tentative agreement” with West Coast employers on “certain key issues,” but indicated a final deal on a new contract was still being hammered out by the two sides.
“Talks are continuing on an ongoing basis until an agreement is reached,” the ILWU said in a brief statement. It did not disclose the issues it had reached agreement on with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents marine terminal and ocean carrier employers.
The ILWU statement comes even as ILWU Local 13 continued to engage in job action as recently as Wednesday that has been slowing down cargo handling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for three straight weeks.
Thursday’s public announcement by the ILWU differed from previous statements made over the past year on the progress of labor talks, which were jointly released with the PMA. Instead, the PMA released its own statement late Thursday that confirmed progress in the talks, but also took the union to task for job action in Los Angeles-Long Beach.
“While significant progress has been achieved in coastwise contract negotiations, several key issues remain unresolved,” the PMA said. “Meanwhile, work actions led by ILWU Local 13 at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continued to disrupt some operations at key marine terminals (Thursday). The union is deliberately conducting inspections that are not routine, unscheduled, and done in a way that disrupt terminal operations.”
Talks between the ILWU and PMA began last May 10; the prior contract expired July 1.
A coalition of 238 US shippers and transportation interests, frustrated by the lack of progress in the West Coast labor negotiations and the resulting diversion of cargo, urged the White House last month to intervene in the talks.
Interestingly, the ILWU statement was published just as Julie Su, the Biden administration’s nominee to be the next Secretary of Labor, was appearing for her confirmation hearing Thursday in the Senate. Su, California’s former labor chief, is seen as a heavily pro-labor pick.
Multiple sources told the Journal of Commerce on Wednesday that ILWU Local 13 had “red-tagged” cranes at at least six of the 12 container terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach as being unsafe, which forced the shutdown of that equipment until it could be inspected. The time-consuming tactic has forced terminals to halt operations for times ranging from an eight-hour work shift to an entire day, sources have said.
Local 13 is also continuing to delay the dispatch of workers each day to most of the terminals in the port complex.
“It’s an escalation (of the red-tagging) and a continuation (of the late dispatches),” a source said of the union’s tactics.
Local 13 officials were not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Source: Journal of Commerce