Talks between representatives for longshoreman at West Coast ports and shipping companies have resulted in an agreement on at least one topic as they continue to try and hammer out a new labor contract.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association announced Tuesday they have reached a tentative pact on terms for health benefits, subject to agreement on the other issues in the negotiations.
The parties have agreed not to discuss the terms of this tentative agreement as negotiations continue.
“Maintenance of health benefits is an important part of the contract being negotiated between employers represented by the PMA and workers represented by the ILWU,” according to a joint statement.
The contract being negotiated covers nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports. The previous agreement expired on July 1. Talks began on May 12 and are continuing.
Since the talks began there has been very little news from either group, while shippers have been nervous about the possibility of a strike by the longshoremen or a lockout of them by terminal operators. Such a worry has resulted in some freight being diverted to ports away from the West Coast, including to Canadian ports, with some seeing big gains in the amount of containers, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, dockworkers represented by the ILWU voted this week in favor of a new contract with grain handlers in the Pacific Northwest, ending a two-year battle that included pickets by workers and lockouts by grain terminal operators.