ILWU Officially Votes to Extend Labor Contract by Three More Years

It’s official. Some 67 percent of the members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have 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.

A final vote was announced on Aug. 4 after a preliminary approval was tallied a week earlier.

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.

“The rank-and-file membership has made their decision and expressed a clear choice,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “During the past year, we saw a healthy debate and heard different points of view, with concerns raised by all sides. The democratic process allowed us to make a difficult decision and arrive at the best choice under the circumstances.”

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.

Extending the labor contract was a topic that had 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.

Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, was relieved to hear there will be labor tranquility on the docks. “The certainty that comes with this contract extension is great news for all of Southern California, where one in nine jobs in the five-county region is connected to the San Pedro Bay port complex,” he said. “The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s vote to extend its contract by three years helps sustain the momentum building in our supply chain as we continue to focus on delivering innovation, value and efficiency for the U.S. importers and exporters.”