Flegenheimer International would like our importers to be aware of what is happening between ILWU and PMA negotiations. On May 12,2014, Contract negotiations were launched on a positive note, giving hopes that a new agreement could be reached without disruptions to the movement of the freight. A joint statement by ILWU and employers association said that “According to both sides, they expect cargo to keep moving until agreement is reached. ”
According to ILWU President Bob McEllrath, ” The union seeks to negotiate a “fair agreement that protects the good jobs and benefits of families and dozens of communities” on the West Coast. On the other hand, Jim McKenna, President of PMA acknowledged that West Coast ports lost significant market share in recent years. Employers seek to negotiate a contract that will empower jobs and economic growth and sustain standing as the “Gateway of choice for goods sent to and from Asia.
In previous reports, ILWU has address several issues in the negotiating committee. These are:
- Stronger Safety Provisions
- More secure benefits
- Greater respect for ILWU jurisdiction
- New Approach to Technology
McKenna also said that healthcare plan needs to be addressed, employers pay 100% of the premiums and union member only pays $1 co pay. Employers would like to have a cost-sharing formula while ILWU does not want to pay any taxes on healthcare plan.
Even though these issues are quite difficult for both parties to resolve, Jim McKenna said that he believes that there will be NO stoppage or lock out. Others have already a contingency plan of planning to ship their freight through alternative gateways in case of disruptions or work stoppage.
The current contract expires at midnight of June 30, 2014. There will be a daily meeting by negotiators in San Francisco until a contract is reached.
We will continue to monitor and keep everyone posted on west coast ports and terminals.