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February 23, 2015/  Volume 2015, Issue 7

PMA and ILWU Finally Reach Tentative Agreement

Dear Valued Customer,


On Friday night, the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract for dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports, according to a joint statement. No details were revealed. The agreement is subject to approval of the rank and file union employees.


The agreement came shortly after U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez issued an ultimatum for the PMA and the ILWU to reach an agreement by Friday the 20th or both sides would be required to move the negotiations to Washington, D.C. this week.


Peter Friedmann, Executive Director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition said, "We are extremely pleased with the news that the West Coast port labor dispute is on the verge of ending. We know that even upon ratification, clearing up the congestion will take months." He added that U.S. agriculture has taken a beating over the last 10 months as the West Coast Ports disruption has denied many agriculture exports access to foreign markets and that the Agriculture Transportation will continue to push the PMA and ILWU to improve West Coast port productivity and efficiency to levels that will make our ports, and products competitive with the best ports in the world... "We are a long ways from that."


"While this agreement is welcome news, there will be significant backlogs to clear, and everyone has a part to help restore confidence that the West Coast and the United States are open for business," said Jay Timmons, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).


Secretary Perez said the West Coast labor turmoil had created "a significant headwind to the economy," which hurt many businesses, including farmers who were already struggling with the drought in California. He also noted the dispute had harmed West Coast ports and that there is "work ahead and fences to be mended."


Chris Lytle, the executive director of the Port of Oakland said with a contract in place, the port's top priority is immediate resumption of uninterrupted cargo operations. It called on terminal operators, labor, truckers and ocean carriers to join forces and quickly restore productivity.


It is estimated that it could take three months for workers to clear out the current backlog of containers. On Friday, Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup said, "We know 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. All of us will be working together to make this happen as soon as possible, but once again, we are extremely pleased with today's news."


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