Late Friday evening February 20, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced that a tentative deal had been reached on a new five year labour contract.
Details of the agreement affecting around 20,000 West Coast dockworkers at 29 ports, who have been without a contract since July, were not released. The PMA and ILWU have been negotiating since May.
The agreement, which still needs approval from union members and employers, should start easing severe congestion that has been building for months at the nation’s busiest ports including Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Operations resumed as usual on Saturday night but the backlog of work will take months to clear as there are an unusually high number of export containers waiting to be shipped to Asia.
There are also dozens of ships waiting to unload their cargo, including 23 off the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
The Port of Long Beach’s chief executive Jon Slangerup welcomed the agreement and said: “We know that the marine terminal operators, longshore workers, truckers,railroads and others will be extremely busy as they work to clear out the massive backlog of cargo at all of the West Coast ports, including Long Beach.”
In a joint statement, the ILWU and PMA thanked U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service deputy director Scot Beckenbaugh for helping them reach agreement.
There is no indication yet of when union members and employers will vote on the deal.