US West Coast Labor Contract Ratified

Last week a five-year contract between the PMA and the ILWU was ratified, governing pay and work rules at 29 west coast ports, from California to Washington state, including the major hubs of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as the Journal of  Commerce reports.

The five-year contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2014, will expire on July 1, 2019.

The contract ratification closes a year of tumultuous relations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association, which saw West Coast ports overwhelmed by congestion because of dockworker slowdowns and a response by employers that included cutbacks on costly night and weekend work.

The proposed contract, which covers 20,000 dockworkers at 29 ports, is far from radical. It avoids issues of automation that were largely addressed in the previous contract, continues employer-paid medical benefits, including the Cadillac tax in the Affordable Health Care Act that will take effect in 2018, and preserves ILWU jurisdiction over chassis inspections, maintenance and repair, even though the owners of the equipment are mostly non-PMA members, an issue that could raise legal issues down the road.

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