According to various media outlets, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) continue to negotiate in good faith on a new labor contract covering U.S. West Coast ports. Negotiations began on May 12, and to this point, have continued without interruption. On June 4, the ILWU and PMA issued a joint release stating: "Both parties remain at the table and are working to reach agreement on a new coast-wide contract." Their stated goal is to implement a tentative agreement by July 1.
The current West Coast contract, which covers 29 ocean ports including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Portland and Tacoma, is scheduled to expire on June 30 at midnight. As the expiration date draws closer, the risk of work slowdowns or other disruptions generally increases, though the parties could agree to temporarily extend their existing agreement. At this time, the ILWU is seeking a three-year contract, as opposed to the six-year contract ratified in 2008. As many industry veterans recall, the contentious labor negotiations of 2002 led to a 10-day lockout of ILWU workers, creating gridlock at ports up and down the U.S. West Coast and months of cargo backlog.
In tangentially related news, a judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently ruled that the ILWU engaged in illegal "go slow" work practices at the Port of Portland from September 2012 through June 2013. According to port executives, the practice was intended to force terminal operator ICTSI to leave the port. Meanwhile, port officials are working to convince Hanjin Shipping, which accounts for two-thirds of container volume, to remain in Portland, which it is considering leaving due to poor productivity.
SPARX logistics will continue to monitor this situation and keep our customers informed of the latest developments. If you have any questions or concerns related to specific shipments, please contact your SPARX representative.