ILWU & PMA Contract Negotiations: Work Slowdowns at West Coast Ports

The ILWU & PMA are still negotiating the labor contract after the previous contract expired in July for the West Coast ports. Some have called for a new collective bargaining model as the parties have been negotiating since May and are still without an agreement.

The absence of a contract, peak season shipping, and chassis and truck driver shortages have resulted in severe congestion and work slowdowns at West Coast ports, especially at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Some vessels have had to anchor because there isn’t berthing space in the terminals. This has caused delays as long as one to two weeks for shipments transiting these ports.

As reported in the JOC, “According to employers, the ILWU this week began shortening terminals of skilled longshoremen who operate important cargo-handling equipment in the container yards. The yards, already operating at maximum capacity, have been brought to their knees by tactics that employers assume are tied to the contract negotiations. Employers in Southern California also say that the ILWU has been conducting unnecessary and costly secondary safety checks, further exacerbating the congestion problems.”

ILWU work slowdowns at the ports of Tacoma and Seattle began last Friday and have continued into this week, affecting vessel arrivals and truck turns causing port congestion. According to the JOC, “PMA said the longshoremen who are reporting to work each day in Seattle and Tacoma have reduced container-handling productivity by 40-60 percent. The daily routine at the terminals this week has been for longshoremen to show up at the terminal for a work shift and operate slowly for about two hours. The employers then dismiss the workers and shut down the facilities until the next shift.”

Importers and exporters with shipments transiting the West Coast ports should expect delays. If you would like alternative routing or air freight options, please reach out to us.


JOC:  ILWU, PMA urged to revamp collective bargaining model

JOC: Labor slowdowns cause cargo backlogs in Seattle, Tacoma ports