More than a year after their labor contract expired, thousands of U.S. West Coast longshore workers now have a new work agreement.
About 75% of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members approved the ratification of a new six-year agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents their employers, the union announced Aug. 31.
The union’s Coast Balloting Committee, which was selected from representatives of all 29 U.S. West Coast ports by the Coast Longshore Division Caucus, certified the results of the vote.
The new contract, which retroactively spans from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2028, covers about 20,000 workers across the U.S. West Coast and “maintains health benefits, and improves wages, pensions and safety protections,” according to the union.
The new agreement comes after 13 months of talks between the two sides that grew contentious in the spring and summer. With the help of mediation and Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su, the ILWU and PMA were able to come to a tentative consensus in mid-June.
“The negotiations for this contract were protracted and challenging,” ILWU International President Willie Adams said Aug. 31. “I am grateful to our rank and file for their strength, to our Negotiating Committee for their vision and tenacity, and to those that supported giving the ILWU and PMA the space that we needed to get to this result.”
PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna issued a statement.
“This contract provides an important framework for the hard work ahead to overcome new competitive challenges and to continue to position the West Coast ports as destinations of choice for shippers worldwide,” he said.
“From San Diego to Bellingham, these ports have long been the primary gateways for cargo coming into and leaving the United States,” he continued, “and our interests are aligned in ensuring they can effectively, and efficiently, handle the capacity growth that drives economies and jobs.’’