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ILWU Vote Promises Three-Year Contract Extension at West Coast Ports

Early reports of election results indicate the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington have voted on a three-year contract extension with their employer, with indications that it will be passed.

A release from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said local unions were reporting the extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) would be approved by 67%, according to the Journal of Commerce.

The current  contract is scheduled to expire on July 1, 2019, but if ratified it will expire on July 1, 2022.  The contract at issue covers 20,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports handling nearly half of all U.S. maritime trade and more than 70 percent of the country’s imports from Asia.

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ILWU to Vote on Contract Extension in August

West Coast longshoremen are expected to vote in August on a current contract extension offer that would guarantee shippers labor stability till 2022, the Journal of Commerce reports.

Management and labor leaders on both coasts believe a successful contract extension on the West Coast could put pressure on East Coast longshoremen to extend their contract or risk a longer-term loss of market share. The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) have been informally discussing the possibility of a contract extension since 2015.

On the West Coast, leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) this month and next are conducting informational meetings with the rank-and-file membership in the local ports to explain in detail what the Pacific Maritime Association’s (PMA’s) offer means to them.

The PMA and ILWU on May 1 released the details of the offer that would extend the current West Coast waterfront contract, which is scheduled to expire on July 1, 2019, until July 1, 2022. The base ILWU wage would increase from $42.18 an hour at present, in increments, to $46.23 on July 1, 2021. Pension increases over the same period would result in a maximum pension of $95,460 in the final year.

By limiting the contract extension to wages and benefits, employers are attempting to avoid potentially controversial issues such as chassis jurisdiction and automation that could have stretched out negotiations for months, or even risked failure.

Labor and management sources are not speculating about the outcome of the ILWU membership vote. Longshoremen will vote in their respective districts, the votes will be tabulated and certified and the results will be announced afterward.