Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Longshoremen Agree to Extension

By Karen Robes Meeks

West Coast dockworkers have formally agreed to extend their contract three more years, guaranteeing a stable labor force as peak season is underway.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents roughly 20,000 workers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington, ratified its contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association.

About 67 percent of ILWU members voted to extend the contract from 2019 to 2022, according to the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee, which announced Friday that the vote took place.

The prolonged contract includes increased wages and pensions and maintains health benefits, according to the union. “The rank-and-file membership has made their decision and expressed a clear choice,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “During the past year we saw a healthy debate and heard different points of view, with concerns raised by all sides. The democratic process allowed us to make a difficult decision and arrive at the best choice under the circumstances.”

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka applauded the ratification.

“The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s vote to extend their contract by three years helps sustain the momentum building in our supply chain as we continue to focus on delivering innovation, value and efficiency for the US importers and exporters,” Seroka said. “The certainty that comes with this contract extension is great news for all of Southern California, where one in nine jobs in the five-county region are connected to the San Pedro Bay port complex.”

The extension gives the supply chain confidence that contract disputes won’t distract from the business of the moving cargo. “This shows that the West Coast means business when it comes to moving cargo for our customers,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle, who released a statement when it appeared that the extension would likely happen. “We’re the most efficient, timely and cost-effective gateway for international trade and with a contract extension, we’re also the most dependable.”