PMA, ILWU Continue Talks on a New Labor Agreement After Existing Contract Expires

The labor contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union expired on July 1, but the two sides say that they’re continuing to negotiate a new agreement.

The coastwide labor contract is between employers who operate port terminals and shipping lines represented by the PMA and dockworkers represented by the ILWU. The parties have negotiated a West Coast collective bargaining agreement since the 1930s.

“Negotiations for a new labor contract covering more than 22,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports will continue to move forward as the existing current coast-wide labor agreement expires,” the union and employers said in a joint statement.

“While there will be no contract extension, cargo will keep moving, and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU),” the statement continued.

Neither side to this point has indicated that it intends to engage in an employee lockout or work slowdown, either of which would be devastating to major West Coast ports, some of which are dealing with massive amounts of cargo congestion, partially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Both sides understand the strategic importance of the ports to the local, regional and US economies, and are mindful of the need to finalize a new coast-wide contract as soon as possible to ensure continuing confidence in the West Coast,” the union and employers stated.

The recently expired agreement was a three-year extension of the most recent labor contract.