The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on Friday reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract covering workers at all 29 US West Coast ports. Although the agreement is subject to ratification by both parties, work began at all 29 West Coast ports on Saturday to clear a significant backlog of cargo.
“After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Bob McEllrath in a joint statement. “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”
Port operators expressed relief at the new agreement. “We look forward to everyone getting back to business as usual starting immediately,” said Port of Long Beach chief executive Jon Slangerup. “We know that the marine terminal operators, longshore workers, truckers, railroads and others will be extremely busy as they work to clear out the massive backlog of cargo at all of the West Coast ports, including Long Beach.”
The labour dispute began in in July when the previous contract expired and has resulted in a significant backlog of US trade with Asia. West Coast ports handle some 70% of the nation’s imports from Japan. Manufacturers have turned to US Gulf Coast and East Coast ports and air cargo carriers as a means to move freight in the interim.
“We are pleased that an agreement has been reached,” said Chris Lytle, executive director at the Port of Oakland. “Now it’s time for all sides to pull together and get cargo moving with the speed our importers and exporters need.”
– Asia Cargo News