ILWU affirms its commitment to reaching an equitable deal

ILWU affirms its commitment to reaching an equitable deal with the PMA

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it remains committed to bargaining a contract that is fair and representative of its contribution toward the ongoing success of the multi-billion-dollar shipping industry.  

This affirmation, however, comes after the Port of Seattle had its cargo operations stifled on 10 June.

The Port of Seattle is the latest West Coast port to be afflicted with strikes, adding to the US’ shipping woes, as a string of labour disruptions spanning from 2 June to 7 June hampered the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents ocean carriers and terminal operators, accused the ILWU of refusing to dispatch longshore workers during the first shift of the day at container terminals, and claimed that the recent stoppages were as a result of “coordinated and disruptive work actions,” Bloomberg reported.

Conversely, the ILWU have alleged that the PMA continue to leverage media tactics to disseminate to the masses, a favourable narrative that will thereby help them influence the ongoing situation to their benefit.

International President, Willie Adams, thus denied and called out the PMA for spreading erroneous reports regarding the inactivity around West Coast ports.

“Despite what you are hearing from PMA, West Coast ports are open as we continue to work under our expired collective bargaining agreement,” stated Adams.

READ: Shipping companies feel impact of US West Coast strikes

The collective bargaining agreement that the ILWU and PMA are negotiating covers more than 22,000 longshore workers at 29 US West Coast ports.  

All registrants of the ILWU have been working without contract since the previous agreement expired on 1 July 2022.

The labour disruption at ports across the West Coast stem from a lack of recognition felt among dockworkers for their contribution during the pandemic which they believe was significant in achieving the record profits experienced throughout West Coast ports.

Talks for an improved labour contract deal began back on 10 May 2022, and have remained unsettled since.

While seeking a long-term agreement encompassing compensation and benefits, sporadic strikes from dockworkers in the meantime have plagued West Coast ports for the past year, stalling operations at the US’ biggest import hub.

This has subsequently led to importers permanently rerouting shipments to the East Coast, highlighting an operational power shift across the US.  

READ: North America West Coast ports show signs of import normalisation

White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, has reported that US President Joe Biden has urged both sides in the West Coast ports labour dispute to continue collective bargaining.

“They have overcome some major sticking points already and are continuing to address [the] most difficult issues right now,” said Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre also informed that Labour Secretary, Julie Su, is actively engaging with both parties to reach a solution.

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