Caucus delegates with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) met on April 28 and voted in favor of sending a formal proposal from the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to its membership on extending the current contract to July 1, 2022. The current contract between the ILWU and PMA that covers 29 West Coast ports is set to expire on July 1, 2019.
Beneficial Cargo Owners have been pushing for a contract extension to secure labor peace. At the height of the last contract negotiations in 2014 and 2015, severe port congestion occurred due to work slowdowns and employer retaliation.
ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said, “One of the ILWU’s guiding principles is that the rank-and-file members will make the best decision when they have the facts and an opportunity to decide for themselves, and that’s how this will be decided.” Mr. McEllrath went on to say, “The rank-and-file membership always have the final say on any contract – including this non-precedent-setting proposed extension.”
The proposal from the PMA would increase the base wage of $42.18 an hour by 3.1 percent per year, with the pension cap to move from the current $88,800 to $95,460, and no changes would be made to the current union health plan. The PMA avoided including more complex issues in their proposal such as jurisdiction that might slow down the discussion and extension process.
It is not known when a vote will take place, advice from the ILWU only that, “The vote will occur on a schedule according to the union’s internal rules.”
On the East Coast, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) have talked informally for the past two years on extending their agreement that is currently set to expire on September 30, 2018, but no formal negotiations have occurred as of yet.
The ILA has stated that they will not open negotiations on a new or extended contract until disputes in the current contract (such as chassis maintenance and repair) are resolved.