ILWU Delegates Approve Tentative Agreement for Members’ Vote

The five-year tentative contract agreement between longshore workers and their employers has been given the thumbs up, paving the way for a vote that will set the contract in stone.

Some 90 delegates from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union spent a week at the Coast Longshore Caucus in San Francisco analyzing the 90-page agreement line by line. The previous six-year contract expired July 1.

At the end, 78 percent voted to recommend the contract be approved by the nearly 20,000 longshore workers covered by the agreement, which encompasses 29 West Coast ports.

“The agreement required 10 months of negotiations—the longest in recent history,” said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath. “But we secured a tentative agreement to maintain good jobs for dockworkers, families and communities from San Diego to Bellingham [Wash.]. Longshore men and women on the docks will now have the final and most important say in the process.”

Copies of the agreement will be mailed to union members, who will be able to discuss it at local union meetings. A secret ballot ratification vote will be tallied by May 22.

Contract negotiations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association—made up of shipping lines and port terminal operators—began in mid-May last year in San Francisco and didn’t wrap up until Feb. 20.

Meanwhile, one of the worst port congestion problems on the West Coast took place, with importers waiting as long as two months to get their goods out of terminals piled high with cargo containers due to a work slowdown and a lack of chassis.

The tentative agreement continues to pay all health benefits for union workers. Wage increases include a $1-an-hour hike that is retroactive to June 28, 2014. The base wage will increase $1.50 in 2015, $1.25 in 2016, $1.50 in 2017 and $1.25 in 2018, when the straight-time wage will become $42.18 an hour.