Tentative deal on US West Coast port contract reached, union and employers say

By Lisa Baertlein and Kanjyik Ghosh

(Reuters) – The Longshore union and employers of 22,000 dockworkers at U.S. West Coast ports said on Wednesday they reached a tentative agreement on a new six-year contract, ending 13 months of talks and easing tensions. supply chain concerns.

The deal was reached with the help of Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) employers’ group have said in a joint statement.

President Joe Biden, who sent Su to negotiations in San Francisco earlier this week, said she “used her deep experience and judgment to get the parties talking, working with them to reach agreement after negotiation long and sometimes acrimonious”.

The agreement, covering workers at ports stretching from California to Washington State, is subject to ratification by both parties. The ILWU and the PMA declined to provide details of the deal.

“The tentative agreement brings important stability to our country’s workers, employers and supply chain,” Su said in a statement Wednesday.

PMA President James McKenna and ILWU International President Willie Adams said in a joint statement, “We are also delighted to return our full attention to the operation of West Coast ports.”

Workers covered by the agreement are based in some of the country’s busiest seaports, including Los Angeles/Long Beach – the busiest maritime trade gateway in the United States. They have been working without a contract since July 1 and are seeking a share of the profits from the surge in pandemic shipments and retroactive pay.

The tentative deal comes as retailers like Walmart and Target begin landing merchandise for the critical back-to-school, Halloween and Christmas shopping seasons. Manufacturers, automakers, and food producers who import or export goods also depend on Pacific Coast ports.

West Coast ports’ market share fell after some customers shifted their cargo to rival East Coast and Gulf Coast ports to avoid possible labor disruptions during negotiations. It also comes as drought conditions affecting the Panama Canal make it more difficult and more expensive to send goods from China to these alternative ports.

The deal “brings the stability and confidence customers have been looking for,” Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka said on Twitter. “We look forward to working with our partners in a renewed effort to bring freight back.”

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Kanjyik Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Michael Perry and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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