The Load Star
February 2, 2023
By Ian Putzger, Americas correspondent
The contract negotiations between the 22,000 port workers in the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and 70 employers on the US west coast, represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) are back on track.
But there is rising concern that the long wait for a resolution will result in permanent loss of business for west coast ports.
According to a report in the Journal of Commerce, citing sources close to the talks, the two sides have resumed negotiations after a lengthy hiatus caused by a dispute over a jurisdictional issue in Seattle.
Neither body has commented, but the two parties have reportedly agreed to set the matter aside to get back to negotiations on a new contract – the previous one having expired last July.
The decision suggests that pressure on both sides to find agreement has grown. Beneficial cargo owners have voiced frustration over the lack of progress and warned that stalemate would result in a permanent loss of business for west coast ports.
Peter Friedman, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, warned that BCOs were running out of patience and would start to move their traffic through other gateways. Over the past year, ports on the east coast and Gulf of Mexico have registered strong gains in container traffic, as companies diverted flows from west coast gateways, concerned over congestion and possible disruption from the contract negotiations, as happened in 2015.
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