West Coast Longshore Workers Approve Contract Extension to 2022

Import/Export

As of Thursday, August 3, 2017

It looks like it will be all quiet on the waterfront for the next couple of years.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union approved a three-year extension to their five-year contract with the Pacific Maritime Association, which means their contract won’t expire until July 1, 2022.

Early reporting from voting union workers show that 67 percent approve of the change, the ILWU said. Final results will be announced on Aug. 4.

The contract covers some 20,000 full-time and part-time ILWU employees who work at 29 ports from San Diego to Bellingham, Wash. It is the first contract extension of its kind in ILWU history.

“There was no shortage of differing views during the year-long debate leading up to this vote, and members didn’t take this step lightly,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath in a statement.

Extending the labor contract was a topic that has been bandied about since the beginning of 2016 and came after West Coast ports were crippled with a labor slowdown and a chassis shortage during the 2015/2016 holiday season. The paralysis at the ports led to importers, manufacturers and retailers losing millions of dollars in sales during the crucial holiday season, which accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of retailers’ annual sales.

The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the port terminal operators and shipping lines that hire the longshore workers, said that it proposed talks on a contract extension to provide stability at West Coast ports.

“With this contract extension, the West Coast waterfront has a tremendous opportunity to attract more market share and demonstrate that our ports and our workforce are truly world-class. We are fully committed to delivering the highest standards of reliability and productivity for years to come, said PMA President James McKenna.

Under the extended contract, workers will see a 3.1 percent-per-year wage increase from 2019 to 2022, taking their base rate of pay from $42.18 an hour to $46.23 by 2022.

Longshore workers would be eligible to retire early during the three-year contract extension. Instead of a minimum retirement age of 62, they could retire at 59.5 without an early-retirement discount. Workers would be eligible to retire after 13 years of employment.

No change would be made to the ILWU’s topnotch health plan, meaning workers don’t pay monthly premiums, only make a $1 co-pay for prescriptions and have limited deductibles. Employers would also make additional contributions to workers’ pension plans.

West Coast ports and longshore workers are following in the footsteps of similar actions taken by East Coast and Gulf Coast ports and the International Longshoremen’s Association to extend their labor contract that was scheduled to expire Sept. 30, 2018