The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) reached a tentative agreement to end a nine-month labor conflict at West Coast ports on Friday. The Port of Long Beach’s CEO estimates it will take West Coast ports about two months to process backlogged work and return operations to normal.
Unfortunately, reaching a labor agreement did not prevent some union members continuing their efforts to deliberately slowdown port traffic. Longshoremen “took part in illegal work stoppages that included taking breaks at the same time, among other actions reducing productivity” in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, most West Coast ports are now running at full strength, working to clear congestion build-up.
Of course, ports suddenly operating at full strength mean that ILWU members really were deliberately contributing to slowdowns. Union executives denied members were deliberately slowing down their work throughout the dispute, blaming the employers for not providing necessary equipment, etc. In fact, union executives expressed outrage at the very accusation.
Since the holiday season, labor slowdowns had reduced productivity at the ports by as much as half. The back-ups have caused problems for industries across the country, including retailers, poultry and meat importers, shippers, and logistics services providers. And, as Shift reported, many agricultural and farming companies faced major losses as their products spoiled in shipping containers.
The details of the tentative agreement have not been released. However, it does include a new arbitration system, new wages, healthcare, and pension clauses.