Tentative Agreement Reached In West Coast Ports Dispute

The long-standing contract stalemate involving dockworkers at dozens of key west coast ports appears to be over.

The Associated Press Friday night reported that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) reached a tentative agreement on a five-year contract after nine months of negotiations. The agreement still needs approval from the ILWU’s 13,000 members who work at ports stretching from Seattle to San Diego.

After much prodding from leading retail trade groups, President Barack Obama this past week sent Labor Secretary Tom Perez to California in an effort to help broker an agreement between dockworkers and shipping companies.

In a statement issued Friday night, Matthew Shay, president/CEO of the National Retail Federation, applauded the agreement.

“We congratulate the ILWU and PMA for finally coming to agreement on a new labor contract. It is now time for the parties to quickly ratify the deal and immediately focus on clearing out the crisis-level congestion and backlog at the ports. We also thank Secretary Perez and the administration for engaging the parties on this critically important economic and supply chain priority,” Shay said.

Kelly Kolb, vp/Governmental Affairs with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said, “After months of congestion and the very real possibility of a debilitating shutdown, retailers are relieved to see a deal in place, and anxious to see the ports up and running at full capacity. It will take months for business to return to normal, but this is obviously a huge first step in the right direction.”