International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) workers voted on Friday to ratify the tentative labor contract agreement that was reached in February with employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union voted 82% in favor of approving the new five-year agreement that will expire on July 1, 2019. The previous contract was ratified in 2008 with a vote of 75% in favor.
Voting results were certified today by the ILWU’s coast balloting committee, which was chosen by Coast Longshore Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.
“The negotiations for this contract were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” said ILWU international president Robert McEllrath. “Membership unity and hard work by the negotiating committee made this fair outcome possible.”
The new agreement provides approximately 20,000 workers in 29 West Coast port communities. The contract will maintain health benefits, improve wages, pensions and job safety protections, limit outsourcing of jobs and provide an improved system for resolving job disputes, noted ILWU.
Last week, members of the Pacific Maritime Association also voted to ratify the new five-year contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The PMA works on behalf of 72 member companies including shipping lines and terminal operators.
“The West Coast ports are an economic engine for the United States, supporting millions of workers and trillions in economic impact,” said PMA president and CEO Jim McKenna, in a PMA statement last week. “The disruptions that occurred during negotiations, and the inconvenience and hardship created by them, were regrettable. We look forward to building upon the incredible advantages West Coast ports offer and winning back the trust and confidence of the shipping community. This contract provides important tools to accomplish that.”
In a separate statement, the National Retail Federation’s vp/supply chain and customs policy, Jonathan Gold, noted, in part, “Shippers can rest a bit easier knowing that the West Coast ports will be more stable over the next few years. While we are happy to see the contract ratified it’s not going to be long before we go through this process all over again. Our ports must adapt to ensure they provide shippers with the predictability and stability they need. Negotiators need to begin their talks early enough to have an agreement in place well before another contract expires. We need a new system in place that benefits all parties and provides for the efficient transportation of the nation’s cargo and commerce.”