ILWU Weighs PMA, Shipper Requests for Federal Intervention

According to multiple media outlets, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) continues to consider a call by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to engage a federal mediator in the parties’ ongoing contract negotiations. Initially, union leadership indicated that it would respond to the request by December 23, but it has since announced that more time is needed to study all proposals made by the PMA during their most recent round of talks.

In the meantime, 166 trade associations have reportedly banded together in support of federal intervention. On December 23, a joint letter signed by the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, and Agriculture Transportation Coalition, among others, was submitted to President Obama, urging a resolution to stalled negotiations.

“Our organizations continue to believe that both parties can reach an agreement that will ensure the continued success and competitiveness of these ports for the foreseeable future,” the letter states. “However, after seven months of negotiations with little progress, we believe federal mediation is needed to help them reach a conclusion. With an official request from the PMA for a mediator, we urge the administration to work with both parties to appoint a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in order to help them conclude their negotiations as quickly as possible.

“We continue to see significant congestion at the ports,” the letter adds, “which is impacting both imports and exports. While there are many reasons for the congestion beyond labor slowdowns, the industry cannot begin to develop solutions until a new contract is finally resolved…The longer these negotiations continue, the greater the negative impact this will have on jobs, down-stream consumers, and the business operations of exporters, importers, retailers, transportation providers, manufacturers and other stakeholders.”

Walker will continue to monitor this situation and keep our customers apprised of the latest developments. If you have questions or concerns related to specific shipments, please feel free to contact your Walker representative.