• ITVI.USA
    14,347.600
    105.650
    0.7%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.380
    -0.310
    -1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    14,344.040
    98.760
    0.7%
  • TLT.USA
    2.760
    0.020
    0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.650
    -0.300
    -10.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.970
    0.010
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.990
    -0.310
    -9.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.490
    -0.200
    -7.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.460
    -0.040
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.280
    -0.100
    -3%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    14,347.600
    105.650
    0.7%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.380
    -0.310
    -1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    14,344.040
    98.760
    0.7%
  • TLT.USA
    2.760
    0.020
    0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.650
    -0.300
    -10.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.970
    0.010
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.990
    -0.310
    -9.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.490
    -0.200
    -7.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.460
    -0.040
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.280
    -0.100
    -3%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingWarehouse

PMA ‘cautiously optimistic’ about contract extension

Pacific Maritime Association President and CEO James McKenna said he expects to hear from International Longshore and Warehouse Union this summer on whether it wants to discuss the extension of the five-year labor contract.

   Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) President and CEO James McKenna said Friday that he is “cautiously optimistic” the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the employer group he heads will discuss the possibility of extending the labor contract that was negotiated in 2014-15 and consummate a deal.
   Speaking at the annual meeting of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition in Long Beach, McKenna said he made a formal request to the ILWU in March for it to consider discussing an extension to their five year contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2014. That agreement took nearly 10 months to negotiate and was ratified last May, about a month after negotiations began, and was accompanied by massive slowdowns and disruption to cargo shipments at West Coast ports.
   McKenna said that although the ball is currently in the ILWU’s court, he expects to hear from the union sometime this summer about whether it wants to pursue talks about a contract extension.
   In addition, McKenna noted
he is concerned that if the PMA and union do not improve the current
negotiation process, the likelihood of outside intervention is more likely.
McKenna also noted that several bills seeking to prevent similar disruptions
like those seen during the 2014 and 2002 negotiations have been introduced to
the U.S. Congress. In 2002, President Bush used the Taft Hartley Act to help
bring an end to a 10-day lockout. McKenna highlighted what he saw as the major accomplishments in each of the past three contracts:
     • The right by employers to have a free flow of electronic information at terminals in 2002, eliminate preventing redundant rekeying of data needed to process shipments by longshore clerks.
     • An automation agreement in 2008 that has allowed robotic terminals like TraPac in Los Angeles and the “Middle Harbor” project at Long Beach Container Terminal to begin operation. He said, however, that he does not expect a rush to automate all container terminals, expressing that terminal operators are of two minds about the need for robotic equipment on the docks.
     • An overhaul of the PMA-ILWU arbitration system in the 2014 contract. The union and employers agreed to replace individual arbitrators in each of the four major regions – Southern California, Northern California, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest with three man panels. Those panel decisions can be appealed to a “coast arbitrator” who has jurisdiction over the entire West Coast.
   McKenna anticipates the new contract will lead to labor peace.
   Arbitration is not required in all disputes. A recent dispute about when equipment operators at the Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) should begin working has been resolved through discussion between the union and management.  OICT has become much busier with the closure of the Outer Harbor Terminal by Ports America and TIL Group, and there is a recognition by the union that as goes the fortunes of OICT, so goes the fortune of the Port of Oakland, McKenna said.
   Expressing the need to improve contract negotiations between the PMA and ILWU, McKenna said, “We have to find a way that we are not disrupting commerce every 3-6-10 years.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.