U.S. West Coast Update: Perez Announces Tentative Five-Year Agreement
According to multiple media outlets, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has announced that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have reached tentative agreement on a new five-year labor contract governing West Coast ports. Over the next several weeks, the membership of both groups must vote to ratify the contract, officially concluding 10 months of negotiations. In a joint statement, ILWU President Robert McEllrath and PMA President James McKenna said that they are “pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”
“In the shipping business,” Perez commented, “reliability is your currency. This dispute undeniably created a crisis of confidence in the West Coast ports. Restoring that confidence in the ports will require a sustained effort by all stakeholders involved. I am confident they are up to the challenge and they understand the tasks ahead.” Projections on how long it will take to clear the current backlog range from several weeks to several months.
After several hurdles were cleared in recent weeks, arbitration remained a major stickling point in the negotiations. Though full details of the new agreement have yet to be released, Perez confirmed it includes a new arbitration system that will “ensure fairness to both sides.” McEllrath added that there will now be a panel of arbitrators in place.
Walker will continue to monitor this situation and keep our customers apprised of the latest developments. If you have questions related to specific shipments, please feel free to contact your Walker representative.