- The two parties involved in West Coast port labor talks said “they remain hopeful of reaching a deal soon,” according to a Thursday joint news release emailed to Supply Chain Dive.
- The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association said they continue to negotiate and both sides agreed not to discuss negotiations with the media as bargaining continues.
- So far, the two sides have reached a tentative deal on “certain key issues, including health benefits, and remain committed to resolving remaining issues as expeditiously as possible,” according to the release.
Thursday’s joint news release marks the first official update from the two parties since September, when a labor dispute involving a marine terminal employer and another union complicated negotiations.
The intra-union dispute centered around the assignment of cold ironing work at Seattle’s Terminal 5, and whether SSA Marine could assign the work to the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers. In September, the machinist union filed a dispute over the matter with the National Labor Relations Board.
At the time, the longshore union alleged the dispute was coordinated by SSA Marine as a means to stall coast-wide contract negotiations.
“This action by SSA, which it will pretend is necessitated by another workforce’s threat of job action, forces the ILWU to focus its attention, otherwise spent in bargaining, on defending the preservation of ILWU work in Seattle,” the longshore union said in a September news release emailed to Supply Chain Dive.
Though the intra-union case is not yet resolved, negotiations are still ongoing. Whether the contract talks will end before the National Labor Relations Board resolves its dispute, and the bearing the case has at the bargaining table, remains unclear. The two parties have declined to comment publicly on the issue.
Over the past months, several industry stakeholders have guessed at when the contract talks will conclude. Just last week, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said he expects the two sides will make “real progress” on the talks during the spring.
In the meantime, shippers facing uncertainty have taken matters into their own hands and diverted cargo away from the West Coast as they avoid any risk of labor disruptions at the West Coast ports.
In their joint news release Thursday, the two parties in the longshore labor talks emphasized West Coast ports have continued to operate during the negotiations, which began May 10, 2022.