Negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and employers have been in discussion for nearly a year now. Shutdowns and delayed openings at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach over the last two weeks have suppressed any hopes that a resolution is near.

Workers Pressure Negotiations

Dockworkers at the ports of LA/Long Beach are taking matters into their own hands with a campaign of job actions. The most recent targeting automated marine terminals. Members of ILWU Local 13 are “red-flagging cargo-handling equipment at LA/Long Beach’s three automated terminals, which designates the equipment as unsafe and forces an inspection, five anonymous sources told the Journal of Commerce (JOC).” “Although the equipment was fine, the time-consuming tactics force the terminals to halt operations for a time ranging from an eight-hour work shift to an entire day, the sources said.”    

“Together, these illegal work actions have disrupted activities at some of the largest and most active terminals in the United States, which play a critical role in the movement of cargo to and from markets throughout the nation,” the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said in a statement last Thursday. 

As with all the campaigns, ILWU Local 13 is attempting to pressure ILWU negotiators to incorporate additional manning requirements for top-handler equipment and maintenance and repair work.  

The recent halts on the U.S. West Coast have rightfully put importers and exports on edge. A coalition of 238 U.S. shippers and transportation interests, frustrated by the lack of progress in contract talks and the resulting diversion of cargo, urged the White House last month to intervene.

Tentative Agreement

The tactics may have worked as it is being reported that ILWU & PMA have reached tentative agreements on certain “key issues”. This does not mean a blanket agreement has been reached and all threats of labor action on the United States West Coast are over. At this time, it has not been confirmed what “key issues” were resolved and it seems neither side wants to say. This news is welcomed; however, it is important to note, it is not over yet and Mohawk Global will continue to monitor the situation.  

By Clarissa Chiclana

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