The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have issued a joint statement that they will meet on November 1st and November 2nd to discuss a contract extension.
The current five year contract for the 29 West Coast ports and 20,000 dockworkers is set to expire on July 1st, 2019.
The scheduled talks are only to discuss the concept of a contract extension, focusing on the issues that would need to be included if the two sides are to agree to move forward with formal negotiations.
Many believe that the best way to proceed with a contract extension is to limit the negotiations to the basic terms of wages, benefits and length of contract extension, and to avoid other issues such as arbitration procedures and jurisdiction that can take months to complete.
Beneficial cargo owners have been pushing for an extension to ensure labor peace as long as possible so that they can engage in long-term supply chain planning and avoid repeats of past disruptions that lead to massive congestion issues.
In other news, the Journal of Commerce has reported that the world’s top 30 container ports have had little improvement over the past two years in productivity levels.
Port productivity is defined as the number of container moves per port call, divided by the total hours from when vessels arrive at port limits to the point of departure from the berth.
Port call data from 74 percent of the world’s cellular fleet operators, combined with ship tracking satellite data, indicates that port productivity at the top 30 container ports only increased by 2 percent from the first half of 2014 to the first half of 2016.