Dockworkers on the U.S. West Coast have voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement reached in June with port employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced Thursday.
The new six-year contract covers workers at all 29 West Coast ports represented by the PMA and is retroactive from July 1, 2022.
The vote brings to an end more than a year of uncertainty that has had major impacts on the U.S. container shipping market as the two sides failed to reach an agreement for nearly a year after the previous contract expired.
ILWU members voted 75% in favor of approving the new agreement, which will expire July 1, 2028. Voting results were certified today by the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee, which was chosen by Coast Longshore Division Caucus delegates elected from each of the ports represented by the PMA.
The ILWU said the new agreement protects jobs, maintains health benefits, and improves wages, pensions, and safety protections for approximately 20,000 workers.
“The negotiations for this contract were protracted and challenging,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “I am grateful to our rank and file for their strength, to our Negotiating Committee for their vision and tenacity, and to those that supported giving the ILWU and PMA the space that we needed to get to this result.”
“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,” said PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna. “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.’’
The contract has already been approved by PMA members.
Negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement kicked off in May 2022 at the peak of the pandemic-induced shipping boom. Cargo volumes have since retreated to more normal levels, but still remain above pre-pandemic volumes in 2019.
The previous contract expired July 1, 2022. The tentative agreement was reached June 15, 2023, with assistance from Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su.
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