Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PMA, ILWU Ratify Labor Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Three months after a tentative agreement was reached, the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union have each finally ratified a new five-year contract.

82 percent of ILWU members voted in favor of approving the new agreement, the union said May 22. The previous contract was ratified in 2008 with a vote of 75 percent in favor.

The voting results were certified by the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee, which was chosen by Coast Longshore Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.

The agreement, which was announced in February, came together after nine months of occasionally contentious talks.

“The negotiations for this contract were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said.

The contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2014, runs through June 30, 2019. It was also approved earlier this month by most of the 71 companies that make up the PMA.

Neither side has provided many details on the agreement, but according to the ILWU, the contract protects about 20,000 jobs in West Coast port communities, maintains health benefits, improves wages, pensions and job safety protections; limits job outsourcing, and provides an improved job dispute resolution system.

“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,” PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna said. “From San Diego to Bellingham, these ports have long been the primary gateways for cargo coming into and leaving the United States, and our interests are aligned in ensuring they can effectively, and efficiently, handle the capacity growth that drives economies and jobs.”