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West Coast Port Talks on 3-Day Hiatus

No new labor contract for West Coast Port dockworkers has yet been finalized, but the negotiations that have been ongoing since May are now on pause.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents the dockworkers, and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents employers who operate the port terminals and shipping lines, released a joint statement this week saying they have agreed to take a 72-hour break from negotiations while the ILWU attends to an unrelated negotiation taking place in the Pacific Northwest.

During the break, which began at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8 and ends at 8 a.m. Friday, July 11, the previous six-year contract, which expired last week, will be extended.

The PMA and ILWU are negotiating a new contract covering nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports, and the lack of a finalized deal has caused delays at the ports as dockworkers have slowed their labor pace, although the two sides have assured otherwise.

Both parties promised last week when the contract expired that the absense of a settled contract would not cause any disruptions at the ports. At that time, the negotiators also said there would be no contract extension.

Last week’s statement from the negotiators said, “Both sides understand the strategic importance of the ports to the local, regional and US economies, and are mindful of the need to finalize a new coast-wide contract as soon as possible to ensure continuing confidence in the West Coast ports and avoid any disruption to the jobs and commerce they support.”