Photo courtesy Port of Long Beach

Photo courtesy Port of Long Beach

A federal mediator is stepping in to try and resolve months of stalled talks between West Coast longshoremen and port terminal operators and shipping companies.

In a statement, Allison Beck, acting director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said the independent agency is responding to a request from both the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, the latter requesting help on Dec. 22. The mediator was not allowed to be appointed until the ILWU also agreed to it, which happened on Monday.

“In response to a joint request for assistance from the parties, collective bargaining between ILWU and PMA representatives will continue as soon as possible under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. We are prepared and ready to render prompt assistance,” she said.

Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, a senior FMCS mediator with extensive collective bargaining experience in this industry, has been assigned to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

The FMCS said it is not releasing information regarding future meeting dates and locations and had no further comment regarding the status or substance of the negotiations.

A contract between West Coast longshoreman and the PMA expired on July 1, with thousands of workers agreeing to stay on the job while talks continued. While there was little to no official word from the two sides following the expiration of the contract, things became publically heated in October when it appeared there were work slowdowns by longshoremen at some West Coast ports.

This raised concerns by both shippers and receivers of containerized freight, along with those by trucking companies, all who said they were experiencing moderate to severe delays in cargo movements.