The International Longshore & Warehouse Union announced Friday its members have ratified a labor agreement reached with employers at 29 West Coast ports represented by the Pacific Maritime Association, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The five-year contract, which covers about 20,000 dockworkers, was tentatively reached Feb. 20 after a contentious 10-month negotiating process that included partial work stoppages and exacerbated congestion and shipping delays at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
The contract was backed by 82 percent of the Longshore union members who participated in the month-long vote. The Pacific Maritime Association earlier this week also ratified the agreement.
The labor pact, which is effective retroactively from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2019, includes salary and pension raises, safety improvements and a new arbitration system.
ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said the negotiations “were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” and through “membership unity and hard work by the negotiating committee” the parties were able to come to “this fair outcome.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who traveled to San Francisco to take part in the negotiations, called it a “big day” and said it’s time to “move forward together to make our port the best in the world and keep our economy moving.”
The deal was reached with assistance from U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh.
The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union had been in agreement on major aspects of the contract — including health care and pay — but there was a lingering disagreement over an arbitrator who would have a key role in determining how the future contract would be implemented and enforced.
As the months-long labor talks grew increasingly acrimonious, the PMA ordered a halt to the loading and unloading of ships at all West Coast ports over the weekends, alleging that workers were conducting an illegal slowdown that drove down productivity. The ILWU denied any slowdown.
Economists estimated the stalled talks and work stoppages drained up to $2 billion a day from the U.S. economy.
— City News Service
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