The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced that it will begin discussions with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to extend the current PMA/ILWU contract which expires in 2019, as the American Journal of Transport reports.
After the chaos caused by the Pacific Coast longshore slowdown in 2015, the decision by the PMA and the ILWU to discuss a contract extension represents a tentative, but important first step, in restoring shipper and carrier confidence.
The current ILWU-PMA contract, which covers 20,000 longshore workers on the U.S. West Coast runs until June 2019 but the union’s vote means both parties seem keen to renew it sooner to ensure a longer period of stability.
Last year saw serious disruption to the Pacific Coast ports with a nine-month industrial action which caused slowdowns and backlogs up and down the 29 PMA ports from Southern California to Washington State.
Businesses that rely on the West Coast ports, which include the nation’s two largest in Los Angeles and Long Beach, have been pushing for a contract extension after protracted negotiations spanning nine months from mid-2014 to early-2015 led to epic delays.
Even once the deal was reached in February, it took the ports several weeks to work through a backlog of cargo, much of which was waiting on anchored ships in the San Pedro Bay outside Los Angeles and Long Beach.
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