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Contract at West Coast ports to be extended in advance
Aug '17
The National Retail Federation has welcomed reports that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association may extend current contract at West Coast ports about two years before it expires on July 1, 2019. The agreement, to be extended until July 1, 2022, will raise wages, maintain health benefits and increase pensions.

“We applaud ILWU members for taking the unprecedented step of approving a contract extension well in advance of the contract expiration,” NRF vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “This agreement between the ILWU and PMA will provide the stability and predictability that NRF’s members and other supply chain stakeholders need to move their cargo efficiently through our ports.”

“Nobody wants to see a repeat of the problems that were experienced in 2014-2015, and this remarkable sign of good faith on the part of both labour and management ensures that such a situation will be avoided,” Gold said. “We hope the parties will continue future negotiations in a similar manner.”

The ILWU has announced that its 20,000 members at 29 ports in California, Oregonand Washington have finished voting on a tentative contract agreement reached this spring with the PMA. Early reporting from locals indicated that the contract will be approved with 67 per cent of the vote, the union said.

The current agreement is set to expire on July 1, 2019, but would be extended until July 1, 2022, if the ratification is approved as expected. The new agreement raises wages, maintains health benefits and increases pensions.

Approval of the three-year extension two years early would be in sharp contrast to 2014, when negotiations didn’t begin until May of that year and the contact was allowed to lapse in July. Workers stayed on the job without a contract, but contentious talks led to slowdowns, cargo backups and other problems until an agreement was finally reached in February 2015 after then-Labour secretary Tom Perez sat down with labour and management to broker an agreement. Port congestions during the period posed significant threats to retail supply chains – particularly during the 2014 holiday season – and NRF urged both parties to begin negotiations on the next contract well in advance. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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