PMA, ILWU contract talks roll on as contract expires

Drone shot of a massive container ship arriving in the Port of Long Beach, California.

Crucial labour negotiations for more than 20,000 dockworkers in the US West Coast continue to move ahead after the previous contract expired last week.

Contract talks between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) will affect 22,000 staff members at 29 ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Despite the previous contract expiring on 1 July, the two parties have been adamant in keeping cargo moving during times of unprecedented supply chain pressures.

U.S. Labor Secretary Martin Walsh told Reuters on 28 June about his weekly updates from the PMA on progress of the talks. They “continually tell me that we’re in a good place,” he said.

Asked about port automation and potential sticking point arising from the talks, Walsh said: “There’s been no issues that I’m aware of that have come up that have made either side concerned.”

US shippers have expressed fears that any breakdown in the port labour talks will further disrupt cargo flows. The parties involved issued a joint statement on 14 June stating that cargo operations would continue without a lockout.

Two Californian Congressmen have recently introduced legislation to benefit US exporters. The American Port Access Privileges Act would ensure fair trade for US businesses in accessing foreign markets to California’s agricultural exporters.

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