West Coast labour talks expected to deliver as parties are ‘in a good place’

West Coast talks

Crucial labour talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) are moving forward without any hardship, says the U.S. Labor Secretary.

Talks between the PMA and the ILWU began on 10 May to produce new labour contracts for 22,000 West Coast dockworkers expiring 1 July.

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. Despite expectations that no agreement will come before the 1 July deadline, the parties involved issued a joint statement on 14 June stating that cargo operations would continue without a lockout.

In the meantime, US President Joe Biden has met with the ILWU and PMA to discuss their commitment to reach a deal on the margins of his presidential visit to the Port of Los Angeles where he addressed the current state of the global supply and vowed to fight inflation.

Just a few days later, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) granting extra powers to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to help restrain inflation and ease congestion across the supply chain.

The final approval came on 13 June with a large majority, 362-42, and the bill was later signed by President Biden on 16 June.

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