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Tentative agreement reached in West Coast ports negotiations

A deal between unions and employers at West Coast ports comes as the retail industry is entering the peak shipping season.
A deal between unions and employers at West Coast ports comes as the retail industry is entering the peak shipping season.

A tentative agreement on a new six-year contract has been reached between unions and employers at West Coast ports.

The deal between the Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) employer group is subject to ratification by both parties. The two groups have been in negotiations since the labor contract initially expired in July 2022.  Things turned tense in recent weeks amid slowdowns and worker stoppages that dealt a blow to the Ports of Oakland and Long Beach.

 The new agreement, whose terms were not released, covers approximately 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports. It came with the assistance of acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating,” stated PMA president James McKenna and ILWU president Willie Adams in a joint statement. “We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”

The nation’s leading retail groups welcomed the news of the tentative agreement, which comes as the industry enters the peak shipping season for the critical holiday period.

“The West Coast ports are key links in the retail supply chain,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a statement. “With a tentative agreement in place, retailers can keep their supply chains moving with more certainty, consumers can rest assured their items will arrive on time, and the U.S. economy has a reduced risk of more looming inflationary pressure.”

“We appreciate the Biden administration and Acting Labor Secretary Su for her engagement, and we encourage a swift ratification and adoption of the agreement to ensure there are no further labor stoppages that impact retailers’ ability to deliver for consumers,” RILA added.

Earlier this month, the National Retail Federation called on the Biden administration to intervene in the labor negotiations following disruptions at terminals at the Ports of Oakland and Long Beach.

“On behalf of the retail industry, we are relieved to see the parties have come to a tentative mutual agreement on a long-term contract for labor operations at the West Coast ports, ending over a year of negotiations and uncertainty,” stated NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “The West Coast ports are a critical artery for retailers and other businesses into the U.S. market. We urge the parties to quickly ratify the tentative agreement to bring certainty back to the West Coast ports. It is essential to begin the negotiation process early for the next labor contract and avoid a future lapse in continuity.”

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