Tentative agreement reached on West Coast port labor contract

From staff reports

On Wednesday night, the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced a tentative agreement on a six-year contract. The agreement, which covers all 29 of the West Coast ports, must still be ratified by both sides.

According to a joint statement by the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the agreement was reached with assistance from Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. Details of the agreement have not been released.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating,” PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Willie Adams said in a joint statement. “We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”

After enduring intermittent shipping disruptions at the ports over the past year, the agreement came as welcome news to U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom, who recently spoke on the challenges work stoppages at the ports posed for U.S. red meat exports.

“This tentative agreement that’s been reached with the West Coast longshoremen is paramount of importance for us,” Halstrom said. “It’s a huge percentage of our business, especially the value-added chilled business, which is our highest value business for both beef and pork. It goes off the West Coast for our Asian markets: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China. These exporters and importers in these countries rely upon a certainty for stability in terms of their shipping logistics. And before this agreement was reached, there was a large level of uncertainty. ‘Will my shipment be delayed?’ ‘Will it be passed over and skip a week?’ These are the sorts of things that were implied since a year ago when the contract expired. So this is good news in a sense of restoring that certainty and reliability that we’re known for: a 52-week-a-year business to these various ports in Asia.”

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