top of page

Fingers crossed as West Coast port labor talks head into overtime

“Both sides understand the strategic importance of the ports to the local, regional and U.S. economies and are mindful of the need to finalize a new coast-wide contract as soon as possible to ensure continuing confidence in the West Coast” as a competitive trade route, the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said in a joint statement Friday afternoon.

The fact that the sides are communicating with a single voice rather than issuing separate press releases in an effort to gain public support is considered a good sign by those familiar with the history of labor relations at the ports. The master contract covers 22,000 dockworkers at 29 U.S. West Coast ports, accounting for about 44% of U.S. container freight traffic. The main container gateway is at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif. 

More than 150 business groups earlier in the day urged the White House to push management and labor at West Coast ports on temporarily extending their contract to assure businesses, workers and consumers of supply chain continuity as the economy faces growing headwinds. 

Talks on a new five-year labor deal between the ILWU and West Coast employers, which began in mid-May, are taking place against a backdrop of recovery from the supply chain dislocations caused by COVID, record cargo volumes and congested container terminals, inland distribution challenges, product shortages and rising concerns about a potential recession. 

“Extending the current contract would provide additional certainty to all of the supply chain stakeholders that rely on the U.S. West Coast ports. This is even more important as we continue to experience supply chain disruptions and congestion for a variety of reasons,” the trade associations said in a letter to President Joe Biden. 

bottom of page