There’s no time to waste on West Coast port contract talks

As chronicled in LM, the impact of cargo disruptions during the 2014 negotiations was widespread and affected logistics managers sourcing from/and shipping to ports throughout the United States.

By ·

A broad coalition of shippers and other supply chain stakeholders are appealing to West Coast dockside labor and management to begin early discussions on either a contract extension or a new contract with the goal to conclude negotiations before the current contract expires on June 30, 2019.

In a public letter to Robert McEllrath, 
International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and James McKenna Chairman and CEO 
Pacific Maritime Association the coalition is also urging them to avoid a repeat of the disruptions and slowdowns that occurred during the 2014 contract negotiations.

“We are encouraged by your remarks at a recent shipping conference, and are pleased that you recognize the negative economic impact of disruptions and slowdowns,” stated the group comprising manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors, transportation and logistics providers.

“We also know there will be important and difficult issues for both of you to resolve during the next set of negotiations. All the more reason, we believe, for those talks to begin as early as possible in order to lay the groundwork for a new contract, or contract extension, without major disruption.

These shippers believe a new model for future negotiations needs to be developed – one which stresses early and continuous dialogue.

In addition, they would like to see both labor and management avoid actions that would slow, stop, or disrupt cargo movement during negotiations.

“At a minimum, we urge you to maintain the arbitration mechanisms in the existing contract for the duration of the negotiations, even if the contract expires before a final agreement is reached,” said the group.

As chronicled in LM, the impact of cargo disruptions during the 2014 negotiations was widespread and affected logistics managers sourcing from/and shipping ports and throughout the United States. The costs were enormously high for many economic sectors. A repeat of this event could be catastrophic.

Mega-vessels are being deployed all along the coast now as ocean carriers increase their reliance on Pacific Rim supply chains.

Agreeing early to a long-term contract will provide the stability and predictability these shippers need, while protecting against any “self-inflicted” harm to the broader U.S. economy.

“Maintaining arbitration procedures during negotiations will also give a measure of certainty to the cargo interests the ultimate end-user…our shippers.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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Article Topics

Economy · ILWU · Labor · Ports · All Topics
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