Days after a union representing 22,000 dockworkers ratified a new contract to keep cargo moving at West Coast ports, President Joe Biden pointed to it as an example that “collective bargaining works.”
In remarks at the White House on Wednesday, Biden praised the six-year agreement between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, whose members include workers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping industry businesses.
The ILWU announced Sept. 1 that its members had voted to accept the agreement, which Biden said provides a 32% raise over its six-year term as well as one-time bonuses to reward workers for helping get the pandemic-snarled supply chain back to normal.
The workers had been without a contract for more than a year and the San Pedro Bay ports, the nation’s busiest port complex, lost market share due to uncertainty during the sometimes contentious negotiations.
The Biden administration sent Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to get the talks back on track; she’s credited with getting the two sides to a tentative agreement.
“It’s a good deal for workers, it’s a good deal for companies and it’s a good deal for the United States of America,” Biden said, adding that strengthening the supply chain helps hold down inflation.
He also hailed a new agreement reached last month by the Teamsters and UPS, averting a potential strike, and he noted soaring support for unions in the U.S., calling on Congress to pass the PRO Act, which he said protects workers’ right to organize.
“Wall Street alone didn’t build this country; the middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class,” he said.
“When the middle class does well, everyone does well and the wealthy still do very, very well.”