On July 1, the current agreement between the ILWU and PMA will officially expire, and with that now being only a week away, there is concern that a new agreement has not yet been reached.
However, on June 14, a joint statement was issued by the ILWU and PMA together, expressing the likelihood that a deal is unlikely to be reached before the July 1 expiration date. This is not unheard of during these types of negotiations.
In this joint statement, both parties reaffirmed their commitment to reaching an agreement, and that neither party is preparing for a strike or lockout after the official expiry of the current contract.
The statement was released a few days after both sides met with President Biden in Los Angeles, and after pressure was put on by interested trade groups raising concern about the approaching deadline. The joint statement of optimism in this regard is unique, as it is not often seen during negotiations.
Nevertheless, when the contract does expire on July 1, so too does the “No Strike / No Lockout” clause that exists within the current agreement. These clauses protect against the potential for strikes or lockouts to take place.
While confidence remains high that a deal can be made without disruptions to West Coast operations, the expiration of these clauses does set up an environment where such actions could take place, should the climate of the conversations turn sour.
Overall, talks are continuing with little news or insight into their progress. While there is no current reason to be overly concerned or alarmed by the lack of agreement, we must pay careful attention to any developments that come from here.