Logistics sector groups are cheering the news that West Coast ports could soon be running reliably again, after the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said late Wednesday night that they had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.
After talking for nearly a year since the previous labor contract expired in July 2022, the parties had lost traction on negotiations in recent days, with the two groups making conflicting claims on the facts about various labor slowdowns that had led to port slowdowns and closures.
In response, groups such as the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and National Retail Federation (NRF) had called for White House involvement in the sputtering talks, prompting Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su to mediate between the feuding groups.
The potential solution comes in the nick of time to allow retailers to meet vital shipping deadlines in the summer months before peak season sales in the back to school and winter holiday seasons.
In a statement, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay expressed relief about the tentative mutual agreement. “The West Coast ports are a critical artery for retailers and other businesses into the U.S. market. We urge the parties to quickly ratify the tentative agreement to bring certainty back to the West Coast ports. It is essential to begin the negotiation process early for the next labor contract and avoid a future lapse in continuity,” Shay said in a release. “A new agreement provides stability to the supply chain and assurance to the millions of businesses and employees who rely on smooth and efficient operations from the West Coast ports.”
Likewise, RILA shared a similar sentiment. “The West Coast ports are key links in the retail supply chain. With a tentative agreement in place, retailers can keep their supply chains moving with more certainty, consumers can rest assured their items will arrive on time, and the U.S. economy has a reduced risk of more looming inflationary pressure,” RILA said in a release. “We appreciate the Biden administration and Acting Labor Secretary Su for her engagement, and we encourage a swift ratification and adoption of the agreement to ensure there are no further labor stoppages that impact retailers’ ability to deliver for consumers.”
Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka echoed those ideas in an email, saying: “The tentative agreement between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association brings the stability and confidence that customers have been seeking. We’re grateful to Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, ILWU International President Willie Adams, and PMA President James McKenna for their leadership and resolve. We look forward to collaborating with our partners in a renewed effort to bring back cargo and demonstrate why Los Angeles is the first choice for Trans-Pacific trade.”