June 1, 2015
East and Gulf Coast Ports Begin Contract Talk
The West Coast seaport labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) began over a year ago. Contract negotiations began in Mid-May of 2014 taking until February of 2015 for an agreement to finally be reached. That agreement was ratified at the end of May with an 82% vote in favor of the five year contract.
In efforts to avoid the turmoil that occurred on the West Coast this past year, East and Gulf coast port managers have already begun talks with their organized port workers, even with over three years left on their current contracts.
The United States Maritime Alliance Ltd. (USMX), representing employers and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), representing roughly 15,000 East and Gulf coast port employees, began preliminary discussions in an all day meeting on May 20.
The agenda for contract negotiations will likely be set after the ILA’s annual conference in July. According to ILA spokesman, Jim McNamara, likely negotiation issues include compensation for lost work due to increasing port automation, maintenance of ports’ chassis, health care benefits, and union jurisdiction in ports where dock workers are currently nonunion state workers.
After bitter negotiations in 2012-2013, the early contract discussions and the hopeful renewal with several years left on the current contract will settle the unease set after the turbulent negotiations on the West Coast.