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West Coast Port Labor Talks to Continue Past July 1 Deadline

Written by Michael Cowden

Contract talks covering more than 22,000 dock workers at 29 West Coast ports will continue past the expiration of a current agreement on July 1 at 5 p.m. PST.

That’s according to a joint statement released on Friday afternoon ahead of that deadline by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

ship coilsThe ILWU, which represents dock workers, is negotiating with the PMA, which represents companies that operate port terminals and shipping lines.

“While there will be no contract extension, cargo will keep moving, and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached,” the ILWU said.

“Both sides understand the strategic importance of the ports to the local, regional and US economies, and are mindful of the need to finalize a new coast-wide contract as soon as possible to ensure continuing confidence in the West Coast,” the union added.

Tensions were already running high as the union fights efforts by PMA to further automate operations, according to SMU parent company CRU.

The ILWU is focusing on wages and benefits, even as the West Coast faces market share losses due to cost and congestion. Carriers, meanwhile, are enjoying record earnings and the ILWU wants a share of that largess.

The West Coast port negotiations are just one of a series of labor talks this summer that could have implications for the North American steel industry.

Talks are also underway or soon will be between the United Steelworkers (USW) and steelmakers US Steel, Cleveland-Cliffs, Algoma Steel and Stelco.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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