West Coast port contract talks continue to lag, but the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents employers at 29 ports including Los Angeles, Long Beach and Tacoma, has made an “all-in” contract offer in an effort to break the deadlock and return to normal productivity at the ports.
The offer would significantly increase pay for International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) dockworkers who already earn an average of $147,000 per year for full-time work. As part of PMA’s offer, their wages would increase roughly 3 percent yearly, health care benefits would be fully paid—a $35,000 per worker cost to employers—and the maximum pension would rise to $88,800 per year as part of the proposed five-year agreement.
Negotiations have dragged on since the previous labor contract expired last July, and for the last three months, ILWU orchestrated slowdowns have decreased productivity and led to major cargo backlog.
PMA president Jim McKenna said in a statement Wednesday, “Our members have shown tremendous restraint in the face of ILWU slowdowns that have cut productivity by as much as 30, 40, even 50 percent,” adding that, “This offer puts us all-in as we seek to wrap up these contract talks and return our ports to normal operations.”
According to the PMA, the offer meets the dockworkers’ biggest demands credited with stalling talks: “maintenance of their Cadillac health benefits – which feature no worker premiums, no co-pays and no deductibles for in-network benefits – as well as jurisdiction over maintenance and repair of truck chassis.”
A federal mediator stepped in to help settle the contract just over a month ago, but the PMA said the two parties haven’t been able to come to a compromise.
“The deteriorating situation on the docks is in nobody’s long-term interest,” McKenna said. “I hope the ILWU leadership will give very serious consideration to this contract offer, which I believe respects their members and gives us a clear path to conclude these talks. We owe it to workers and businesses across the nation to resolve our differences and get our ports moving again.”