According to multiple media outlets, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have reached a tentative agreement on health benefits for a new West Coast labor contract. The terms are subject to finalization of other open issues, which remain under active discussion.
Negotiations for a new labor contract, which covers almost 20,000 longshoremen at 29 West Coast ports, began on May 12, and have continued through the expiration of the previous contract on July 1. To date, no major disruptions related to the negotiations have been reported, though tens of thousands of containers have been diverted to Canada and the East Coast in anticipation of potential problems.
The issue of health benefits, including who will pay the tax on high-benefit health care plans mandated by the the Affordable Care Act, have reportedly dominated the talks to this point. There has been speculation that the two parties may agree to a three-year contact, rather than the typical six-year pact, due to uncertainty about the future of this requirement. Industry pundits remain optimistic that, with an agreement on health benefits behind them and a decidedly civil tone to the negotiations tus far, a new master contract may be finalized in the near future.
SPARX logistics will continue to monitor this situation and keep our customers apprised of the latest developments. If you have questions or concerns related to specific shipments, please contact your SPARX representative.