Union Leaders back West Coast Labor Deal
The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) voted on Friday to recommend approval of the tentative agreement reached on February 20, 2015, between the union and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
The tentative agreement was approved on February 20 by the ILWU’s 16-member elected Negotiating Committee and eight-member Safety Sub-Committee. The proposed five-year contract covers 20,000 dockworkers at 29 west coast ports.
All 90 delegates to the Coast Longshore Caucus spent this week reviewing the proposed agreement line-by-line, before voting by 78 percent to recommend the proposal on Friday.
“This agreement required ten months of negotiations – the longest in recent history,” said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath, “but we secured a tentative agreement to maintain good jobs for dockworkers, families and communities from San Diego to Bellingham. Longshore men and women on the docks will now have the final and most important say in the process.”
Copies of the agreement will be mailed to longshore union members, who will then have a chance to discuss the proposal at local union meetings. A secret ballot membership ratification vote will be the final step in the process. A final tally will be conducted on May 22.
The agreement, involving 29 ports, was reached in February after U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez arrived in San Francisco to broker a deal with the help of a federal mediator who had joined the talks six weeks earlier.
The White House called the deal, reached after nine months of negotiations, "a huge relief" for the economy, businesses and workers. President Barack Obama urged the dockworkers and the shipping companies to work together to clear the port backlogs.
Tensions arising from the talks have played out since last fall in chronic cargo backups that increasingly slowed freight traffic at the ports. The dispute had reverberated throughout the U.S. economy, extending to agriculture, manufacturing, retail and transportation, and even hitting consumers of French-fried potatoes at McDonald's Corp restaurants in Japan.