International President Bob McEllrath led the ILWU’s 16-member Longshore & Clerks Contract Negotiating Committee who sat down with their employer counterparts from the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) on May 12 to negotiate a new pact. The talks are expected to last many weeks, with the first sessions taking place at the ILWU headquarters in San Francisco then alternating weekly between the ILWU and PMA offices.
“We’ve got an excellent negotiating team and solid support from longshore and clerk members who mapped out their priorities and gave us their marching orders to secure a good contract,” said McEllrath.
Among the key issues conveyed by workers through their elected Caucus delegates to the Negotiating Committee are:
• maintenance of health care and retirement benefits;
• respect for ILWU jurisdiction;
• fair raises; and
• improved safety provisions.
The current contract dates from July 1, 2008 and covers a workforce of nearly 20,000 registered and casual workers at 29 west coast ports. It will expire at midnight on June 30, 2014.
In 2002, employers united with shippers and giant retailers to support a ten-day lockout that shut west coast ports for ten days until the White House sought a federal court order to end the employer lockout. The Dispatcher will follow developments in the negotiations and provide updates as they become available.