ILWU: Closing West Coast Ports Would Be Reckless

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is reportedly trying to keep the U.S. West Coast dock employers, represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), at the negotiating table to finish contract talks that are ”extremely close” to completion.

The ILWU, a labor union which represents the U.S. West Coast dock workers in an ongoing labour dispute with the PMA,  reportedly pledged to keep the ports open and keep cargo flowing, despite what they call a massive, employer-caused congestion crisis that has delayed shipping for most of 2014.

On the other hand, the PMA has repeatedly accused the ILWU of organizing work slowdowns at the West Coast ports, which according to the PMA threaten to close the ports.

This is the second time in recent memory that the employers have threatened to close ports at the final stages of negotiations, says ILWU. The union has not engaged in a port strike over the coast longshore contract since 1971, 44 years ago.

”We’ve dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled – and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved,” said ILWU President Robert McEllrath. ”Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible.” 

The ILWU said it urged the Federal Mediator to keep both parties at the talks until the nearly-finished agreement is concluded.

If the PMA closes the ports, ”the public will suffer and corporate greed will prevail,” said McEllrath, who noted that the major powers on the employer side are multi-national corporations who are foreign-owned.

”These foreign-owned companies make billions of dollars and pay their executives millions to do their bidding,” said McEllrath.

The PMA  yesterday made what they called an ”All-In” offer that would increase compensation to members of the ILWU.

Image: Port of Los Angeles

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