The International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced Thursday that its members have ratified a six-year contract between the union and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing the shipping industry, after nearly a year of negotiations and discord that plagued West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Members of ILWU have voted to ratify and approve a tentative contract agreement that was previously reached in June with employers represented by PMA, according to a statement from ILWU. ILWU members voted 75% in favor of approving the new contract.
Voting results were certified Thursday afternoon by the union’s Coast Balloting Committee, formed by Coast Longshore Division Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.
“The negotiations for this contract were protracted and challenging,” Willie Adams, president of ILWU International, said in a statement. “I am grateful to our rank-and-file for their strength, to our negotiating committee for their vision and tenacity, and to those that supported giving the ILWU and PMA the space that we needed to get this result.”
According to ILWU, the new agreement “protects good-paying jobs in 29 West Coast port communities, maintains health benefits and improves wages, pensions and safety protections.”
The union represents approximately 20,000 longshore and clerk workers on the West Coast.
PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna issued a statement noting the contract, already approved by PMA member companies, is retroactive to July 1, 2022, and runs through July 1, 2028.
“This contract provides an important framework for the hard work ahead to overcome new competitive challenges and to continue to position the West Coast ports as destinations of choice for shippers worldwide,” McKenna said in a statement.
A representative of PMA wrote in an email to City News Service that PMA would not comment on the terms of the contract. ILWU did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding details of the contract.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported that “People familiar with the talks say the deal would give dockworkers a raise of $4.62 an hour in the first year of the contract—the equivalent of a 10% wage increase—plus an additional $2 an hour in each subsequent year.”
Following the announcement, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson issued a joint statement applauding the contract.
“This agreement is a win for the working people of our cities and for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Labor stability is critical to the success of the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, which moves nearly 40% of the nation’s containerized cargo,” according to the joint statement. “Together, the two ports handle more than $400 billion in trade that reaches all 435 Congressional districts and support 1 in 5 jobs in Long Beach and 1 in 9 jobs in Los Angeles.”
Bass expressed her gratitude to both organizations for working together to achieve a contract agreement that “puts people first while safeguarding our economy.”
The contract comes after nearly a year of negotiations that at times were somewhat tumultuous. The union and PMA had been in talks for months on a contract to replace the one that had expired July 1, 2022.
The ILWU had claimed, “From pre-pandemic levels through 2022, the percentage of ILWU wages and benefits continued to drop compared to PMA rising revenues.” While PMA had accused the union of engaging in work slowdowns, leading to rolling closures of container terminals.
A tentative agreement was reached with assistance from acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su back in June.