West Coast Port Slowdown Moving Towards Lockout
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, February 4, 2015
The ongoing labor dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) representing the ocean shipping companies and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) appears to be coming to a head and may lead to a lockout n the next five to ten days and complete cessation of cargo movements through United States West Coast (USWC) ports.
The president and chief executive officer of the PMA, Jim McKenna, gave the employers’ first press conference today at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time since negotiations began in May 2014 for renewal of the so-called “Coast Contract,” which expired on July 1, 2014.
McKenna said that with congestion at terminals increasing and low productivity there could be a gridlock at ports and a lockout in five to 10 days.
A coast wide lockout would mean a cessation of cargo movements through all USWC ports severely impacting Hawaii, Guam, Alaska and American Samoa.
The ILWU has separate contracts in Hawaii and Alaska, which are typically negotiated after the Coast Contract is ratified.
A video of the press conference is available on the PMA website: http://www.pmanet.org/news-info.
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Hawaii could be facing food, goods shortages due to slowdown at West Coast ports
News Release from Office of Sen Sam Slom February 5, 2015
HONOLULU— Senator Sam Slom will express his concern about the West Coast shipping labor dispute tomorrow on the Senate floor, and will file a Senate resolution calling on the President of the United States to use his power under the Taft-Hartley Act to force the parties to return to normal work and negotiate.
Negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have grinded to a halt, with the PMA indicating it could be five to ten days away from a lockout. As a result, Hawaii could be facing extreme delays in shipments of goods and empty store shelves.
Today, Senator Slom said, "A lockout on the West Coast would be devastating to Hawaii. It would result in food and household goods shortages, and could have serious economic effects for Hawaii, including affecting our number one industry, tourism. Because the parties have no obligation to arbitrate, the battle between the PMA and ILWU is getting out of control. It is time for our President of the United States and our unheard from congressional delegates to get involved and use the power of their offices to take this in hand and clear the congestion in West Coast ports."
Yesterday, PMA president and CEO Jim McKenna publicized its last and final offer to the unionized longshoremen and dockworkers of West Coast ports, with whom PMA has been in negotiations since expiration of their labor contract. PMA indicated that with congestion at the terminals increasing and low productivity, there is a gridlock at ports, and without a response from the union to send people back to work, a complete lockout is only five to ten days away. Yesterday's press conference by McKenna was the first since negotiations began in May 2014 for the renewal of the "Coast Contract" which expired on July 1, 2014.
For weeks, Hawaii grocery stores and wholesalers have experienced shortages, highlighting the islands' dependence on the shipping industry. If a lockout were to occur, a variety of items from food products to household items could be in short supply not just for Hawaii but for all noncontiguous US trades like Alaska and Puerto Rico. American Samoa, for example, has not had a shipment come in from a West Coast port for over a month.
For months, shipping containers have sat untouched at docks like San Pedro and Los Angeles, forcing incoming ships to wait offshore, immobilized and unable to offload new containers. With no workers to process the containers and move the goods onto trucks for delivery to retailers, goods have spoiled and been rendered worthless.
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AS: News Flash: PMA says it is offering West Coast longshoremen a five year contract with three percent annual wage increases
CAN: Lockout Nears for West Coast Ports
AS: West Coast longshore talks come to a head
JOC: PMA details ILWU contract offer in attempt to avert lockout
"McKenna said no one wants a lockout, but with ports at the point of gridlock and most vessels in the trans-Pacific trades stuck on the West Coast, the system will soon shut itself down. No one can predict when that will happen — five days, seven days, two weeks — but the ports will soon grind to a halt, he said."
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PBN: Matson Sez Nuthin to See Here
A lockout in 2002 led to shipments arriving in Honolulu four days late. However, then-Gov. Ben Cayetano and the entire Hawaii congressional delegation were able to get an exemption to get people back to work. Hull says that if the current situation deteriorates into a lockout by the ILWU or PMA, the state could see something similar to what happened in 2002.
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PMA Makes “All-in” Offer to ILWU as Contract Talks Lag
ILWU’s Choice: Continued Slowdowns or Gold-Standard Wages & Benefits
News Release from PMA
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (February 4, 2015) – Seeking to break the deadlock in stalled West Coast longshore negotiations, the Pacific Maritime Association has made an “all-in” contract offer that would significantly increase compensation to members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Full-time ILWU workers already earn an average of $147,000 per year, and would see their wages rise roughly 3 percent per year, along with fully paid health care that costs employers $35,000 per worker per year. The maximum ILWU pension would rise to $88,800 per year as part of the proposed five-year contract.
PMA’s offer is designed to bring contract negotiations to a close after nearly nine months, and follows three months of severe ILWU slowdowns that have crippled productivity at major West Coast ports.
“Our members have shown tremendous restraint in the face of ILWU slowdowns that have cut productivity by as much as 30, 40, even 50 percent,” said PMA President Jim McKenna. “This offer puts us all-in as we seek to wrap up these contract talks and return our ports to normal operations.”
PMA’s offer also meets the ILWU’s two biggest demands: maintenance of their Cadillac health benefits – which feature no worker premiums, no co-pays and no deductibles for in-network benefits – as well as jurisdiction over maintenance and repair of truck chassis. Those two issues consumed months of contract talks, and in both cases PMA has offered significant concessions to the ILWU.
The resulting contract offer calls for a cost increase of roughly five percent each year over the life of the five-year contract. ILWU slowdowns – which are prohibited by contract – are now in their 14th week, severely impacting operations at major West Coast ports including Tacoma, Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach. PMA has requested a contract extension, which would prohibit slowdowns, but the ILWU has refused.
Despite four weeks of participation by a federal mediator, the parties have not yet been able to bridge the considerable gaps between them. The Union has recently made significant new demands, and is also insisting on changes to the decades-long process for selecting arbitrators – trying to change the rules on the waterfront in their favor, giving them the ability to unilaterally remove arbitrators who rule against them.
“The deteriorating situation on the docks is in nobody
’s long-term interest,” McKenna said. “I hope the ILWU leadership will give very serious consideration to this contract offer, which I believe respects their members and gives us a clear path to conclude these talks. We owe it to workers and businesses across the nation to resolve our differences and get our ports moving again.”
A fact sheet on the PMA offer is attached, and a video of McKenna offering details of the offer is available on the PMA website: www.pmanet.org .