ILWU, PMA Turn to Federal Mediation

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) has announced that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have requested its assistance in resolving the parties’ ongoing contract negotiations. The labor talks, which began in May and have reportedly contributed to current congestion levels at U.S West Coast ports, have not reported significant progress since late summer. News of federal involvement has raised hope among shippers, terminal operators, port officials, and numerous other parties impacted by the stalemate.

“In response to a joint request for assistance from the parties,” stated FMCS Acting Director Allison Beck, “collective bargaining between ILWU and PMA representatives will continue as soon as possible under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. We are prepared and ready to render prompt assistance. Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, a senior FMCS mediator with extensive collective bargaining experience in this industry, has been assigned to help the parties bring these important negotiations to a mutually acceptable resolution.”

Over the past decade, the FMCS has achieved a success rate of 84-87%, though that rate slides to 47% when the contract in question involves over 1,000 workers. (The ILWU includes 14,000 members.) In 2012-2013, the FMCS did successfully broker an agreement between East and Gulf Coasts port employers and members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), with Mr. Beckenbaugh acting as one of the mediators.

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