Tuesday, July 29, 2014

PMA, ILWU Take Break in Contract Talks

By Mark Edward Nero

The Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union are taking a weeklong break in contract negotiations, the parties said July 25.

“After several days of productive contract talks, both parties concluded negotiations,” a joint statement by the two sides said. ‘No talks will take place from July 28 to Aug. 1 so that the ILWU can resume unrelated contract negotiations in the Pacific Northwest.”

In addition to the PMA talks, the union is negotiating with three PNW grain export terminals – Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Marubeni-Columbia Grain and Mitsui-United Grain – that are not PMA members. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents management, and the ILWU, which represents labor, say they expect to resume contract negotiations Monday, Aug. 4 in San Francisco.

The two sides began talks regarding a new labor contract on May 12. The previous six-year labor pact, which covered almost 20,000 longshore workers at 29 ports up and down the West Coast, expired June 30, but although no contract extension has been ratified, both sides have agreed to keep operating under the provisions of the recently expired contract for the time being.

Although there are no signs of a union strike or management lockout looming, there’s a history of contentious talks between the PMA and the ILWU, which represents dock workers in California, Oregon and Washington.

Neither the 2008 or 2002 talks were resolved until after the contracts’ expirations, and in 2002, the PMA launched an employer lockout that shut down the West Coast ports for 10 days and resulted in an estimated $1 billion-per-day loss to the industry.