West Coast ports labor talks make progress

On May 12, 2023, in Shipping, by Josh Ricken

Contract negotiations between workers and employers on West Coast ports have made progress in recent weeks, according to media reports.

Discussions between employers at West Coast ports and unionized longshore workers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, have yielded mutual agreements on several major issues. The sides agreed on healthcare benefits shortly after negotiations began, but talks slowed over local issues.

However, officials say those issues have been resolved and the sides agreed on the use of automation in recent weeks, building the belief that a tentative agreement can be reached by June to avoid any further disruptions, reports the Wall Street Journal. Talks have been underway for almost a year concerning approximately 22,000 dockworkers from California to Washington state.

Local issues at individual ports were the contributing factors for the lengthy delay. Officials say most of these issues have been resolved within the last few weeks. Additionally, agreements have been reached on topics such as healthcare and the use of automation at docks.

Currently, the only issues still up for debate are wages and pensions in addition to how long contracts will run. Employers are looking for a six-year contract, while the union prefers a shorter, two-year contract. Any agreement would be retroactive to July 2022.