Over on the west coast, the International Longshore Worker’s Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) are deep into negotiations on the new contract that will dictate work for the next four years. The goal of the negotiations is two-fold to both allow for more automation, while still adequately compensating the workers who have been under intense pressure since the start of the pandemic sent the supply chain into chaos. In a statement regarding the process, both sides have agreed to continue negotiations past the deadline date of July 1, 2022 without a work stoppage or strike.
According to The Loadstar, they said: “Cargo operations continue beyond the expiration of the contract. Neither party is preparing for a strike or a lockout, contrary to speculation in news reports. The parties remain focused on and committed to reaching an agreement.”
The reassurance comes after difficult negotiations in 2015 and 2017 caused major disruption on the west coast. Rather than have the federal government try to step in, both parties finally got together on either a new agreement or an extension to the agreement to which they were contracted. Narrowly avoiding federal interference, it benefits all parties if an agreement is reached. Slow and steady, despite deadlines, is a preferred outcome over rushing to a stalemate. Considering these talks represent 22,000 dockworkers, there are a number of issues besides the typical automation and hourly pay that must be ironed out.
While we typically focus our attention on the issues and updates that represent east coast ports, there is no real delineation where cargo is concerned. Soon the east coast ports will go into their own negotiations and the wheel will continue spinning. In a tight balancing act that must take into account a booming e-commerce industry, hazardous conditions brought to light by the pandemic, and massive advances in automation, the complexity of the situation is astonishing.
Should there be issues in advance of the contract, despite the above assurances, you’ll want to be ready. If you have cargo moving through the west coast, even truck, rail, or air, and not ocean, contact your Nelson representative. Planning ahead for any worst-case scenario can help clients mitigate delays or issues that might arise if something stalls or another calamity arises. We’re on hand to help you through any concerns you have.