Ports Seek Mediation with U.S. Dock Workers
Saturday, January, 17, 2015
Despite being locked in negotiations for the last seven months, terminal operators and shipping companies operating in 29 ports in the Western United States have asked the union representing more than 20,000 dock workers to agree to Federal Mediation to resolve the ongoing contract dispute.
Prompting the new push for mediation are the alleged “slowdowns” being used as a pressure tactic by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILW). The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) claims these slowdowns have been “severe” and have had an extremely negative effect on business at the ports. The ILW has denied any official work slowdowns. The union continues to resist the call for mediation and describes progress on a new contract as ‘slow but steady,’ a description the PMA disagrees with.
Federal mediation requires the consent of both sides of the dispute. The ILW has said it will consider the call for mediation and respond next week.
The ports and shipping lines are concerned that slowdowns organized by the union, which can stretch normal 2-day unloading times to more than 2 weeks, will permanently harm their business as foreign exporters seek more reliable ways of getting their goods into the USA. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on the West Coast are the two busiest port in the U.S.
The previous contract with the ILW’s workers expired in June, but both sides agreed to continue the negotiations that had begun in May. However, both sides seem to remain very far apart.