Negotiations are set to begin Tuesday, May 10 in San Francisco to sign a new contract for about 22,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports, including twin ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The behind-the-scenes talks – no public information is expected to be released during the confidentiality process from either side – will cover general issues of pay, benefits and working conditions.
But a high level of attention is expected for these talks after the past several years in which pandemic cargo growth and ship backlogs – along with new health security issues – have brought a global spotlight on the shipping industry and how ports operate.
“Both sides have a very vested interest in these talks,” transportation economist Paul Bingham told industry news publication Transport Topics in February. “The stakes cannot be any higher in terms of national attention to the topic. These talks are going to take place in a context that has never been done before, that is, a greater focus on what has happened over the last two years on the West Coast. With giving. And that means there’s some unpredictability about it.”
Automated cargo handling and its impact on jobs, for example, Bingham said, is likely to be a major topic.
Nevertheless, both sides have stated that they do not anticipate any disruption in cargo movement during the talks.
Negotiations are expected to last until July 1, when the current agreement expires, or possibly even beyond that both sides will work to work out an agreement between marine terminals and employers operating shipping lines and dockworkers.
Earlier, the start of the talks was scheduled for May 12, but was pushed forward by two days as both sides consulted with their respective calendars.
The two sides have negotiated West Coast Collective Bargaining Agreements since the 1930s.
Negotiations are set to continue on a daily basis until an agreement is reached.
Dockworkers went on strike in 1971 and in 2002, President George W. Bush used the Taft-Hartley Act after a 10-day lockdown.
In March, four US senators – Kevin Carner (R-ND), Mike Brown (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC) and James Risch (R-ID) – sent a letter to President Biden about the talks. Concerns were expressed. ,
He asked the President to use available tools to work with both sides so that contract negotiations can be completed before July 1.
“Any delay caused by failed negotiations will have enormous costs and implications for our nation’s supply chain,” the sponsors wrote. “This cost will be felt not only by retailers and others who depend on ports for their business, but also by the millions of American workers, farmers and ranchers who may face short-term shutdowns in their factories or You may face hurdles in getting your products to market. ,
Biden has been closely involved in White House supply chain issues to ensure cargo moves forward over the past year, appointing a task force and acting directors of the LA and Long Beach ports, Jean Cerocca and Mario is meeting with port officials, including Cordero. as well as ILWU International President Willie Adams, to devise strategies to address the backlog.
US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh visited the twin ports in November, when he answered news media questions on upcoming contract negotiations. Walsh, the former Boston mayor and former union president, said he was confident of the negotiation process and would be available if there was an impasse or if asked to act.