West Coast Dockworkers, Ports Hope to Avert Upset in Labor Talks
(Bloomberg) -- The organization representing employers at 29 U.S. West Coast ports is hopeful that labor-contract negotiations with dockworkers next year will avoid a repeat of the slowdowns caused by disagreements during the 2014 talks.
“Both sides are cautiously optimistic that we’re gonna get through this without further disruptions,” Pacific Maritime Association President James McKenna said in an interview with David Westin on Bloomberg Television’s ‘Balance of Power’ show Friday.
The PMA represents 70 ocean carriers and terminals in the negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which speaks for about 15,000 dockworkers at the U.S.’s largest ports.
The talks are due to start in mid-March or April, McKenna said, and come amid record backlogs at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Persistent supply-chain constraints are contributing to delays, shortages of some goods and quickening inflation.
When companies and workers last discussed contracts in 2014, West Coast ports faced nine months of slowdowns that only came to an end when the White House got involved. Originally set to end in 2019, the contracts were extended for three years after roughly two-thirds of union members voted to lengthen them to avoid cargo disruptions in exchange for higher wages and pensions.
Last month, the union declined an offer by employers to extend existing labor contracts for a year, setting the stage for heated negotiations.
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