Thomas Perez, the U.S. Labor Secretary, has given the dockworkers’ union and the Pacific Maritime Association till Friday to come to an agreement and sign a new contract. If an agreement is not made on the single remaining point of contention, Perez plans to drag both parties to Washington to complete negotiations.
Andrew Khouri, LA Times. “Labor Secretary Perez sets Friday deadline in port dispute” www.latimes.com 2/20/2015. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-port-talks-20150220-story.html (2/20/2015).
Jeanna Smialek, Bloomberg. “Biggest Drop Since ’09 Hits U.S. Ports as West Coast Suffers” www.bloomberg.com 2/18/2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-18/west-coast-port-labor-fight-costs-u-s-economy-as-shipments-slow (2/19/2015).
Nine months of negotiation between U.S. West Coast port management and labor has resulted in a satisfactory deal with one exception. That solitary issue is the hook that this process is snagged on. The union wants the right to dismiss an arbitrator. Currently both management and labor have to agree to the dismissal. Why is this so important to the union? It seems it is down to one particular arbitrator, David Miller, who has been arbitrating for Southern California since 2002. The union feels he is pro-management. Miller is requesting proof of this bias. He says there is no basis for the allegations. He believes he must have upset someone and they are retaliating for a previous perceived slight. The closed door talks with the U.S. Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez, are likely focused on this issue.
Justin Pritchard, Associated Press. “AP sources say port talks focus on arbitrator” www.news.yahoo.com 2/17/2015. http://news.yahoo.com/us-labor-official-overseeing-stalled-west-coast-port-082212492–finance.html (2/18/2015).
With Friday’s talks ending in stalemate and the port lockouts beginning to impact the U.S. economy, Thomas Perez (U.S. Labor Secretary) is scheduled to meet with the dockworkers’ union and maritime association today. After nine months of negotiations and the assistance of a federal mediator, the organizations have been unable to come to an agreement. 29 U.S. west coast ports have been affected by this dispute, which is impacting international trade and the U.S. supply chain.
Justin Pritchard, Associated Press. “US labor official looks to untangle West Coast port dispute” www.denverpost.com 2/17/2015. http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_27541011/us-labor-official-overseeing-stalled-west-coast-port (2/17/2015).
Zero Hedge, in their article, “Catastrophic Shutdown of America’s Supply Chain,” provides us with the visuals to understand the seriousness of the port congestion on the U.S. west coast.
Tyler Durran, Zero Hedge. “Catastrophic Shutdown Of America’s Supply Chain” www.zerohedge.com 2/12/2015. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-02-12/catastrophic-shutdown-americas-supply-chain-begins-stunning-photos-west-coast-port-c (2/13/2015).
The Pacific Maritime Association has just announced that West Coast ports will be closed Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Karma Allen, CNBC.com. “West Coast ports shutting down… again” www.cnbc.com 2/11/2015. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102413710 (2/11/2015).
Portland’s weekend port closure may have been the last straw for Hanjin Shipping. Yesterday, in an official email, they dropped the Port of Portland as a distribution point. They didn’t cite specific reasons, but the two year ICTSI and local longshore worker dispute has been a point of contention in the past. This will be a huge economic hit to the region. The business supported over 500 jobs and produced $83 million for Oregon’s economy annually. Hanjin will continue to service Portland by air, truck and rail.
Molly Harbarger, The Oregonian/OregonLive. “Hanjin Shipping officially leaves Port of Portland, taking vast majority of port’s business with it” www.oregonlive.com 2/10/2015. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2015/02/hanjin_officially_leaves_port.html (2/11/2015).
This weekend 29 ports on the U.S. West Coast were temporarily closed. They are scheduled to reopen today.
Sarah Aitchison, Puget Sound Business Journal. “West Coast ports halt activity until Monday” www.bizjournals.com 2/07/2015. http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/news/2015/02/07/west-coast-ports-halt-activity-until-monday.html (2/9/2015).
Yesterday the Pacific Maritime Association (after nine months of negotiating and a recent contract offer) threatened to lockout West Coast dockworkers. Recent union slowdowns have caused gridlock at 29 ports on the West Coast and have had an impact on other U.S. ports as well. This lockout could occur in as soon as 5 days.
After nine months of bargaining, the Pacific Maritime Association presented a comprehensive offer that would enhance the ILWU’s impressive wage and benefits package. A summary of key points is below.
Wages would continue to rise – well into six figures for full-time workers:
- Full-time ILWU workers already earn an average of $147,000 per year, which includes a base rate of $35.68 per hour, as well as very substantial skill rates, shift premiums, guarantees, overtime, vacation and holiday pay.
- Under the PMA’s latest offer, the base rate would rise to $40.68 over five years – a 14% increase, or roughly 3% each year.
- Given the dramatic multipliers described above, average full-time wages can be expected to rise well above the current $147,000 per year.
Health care benefits would continue to be among the nation’s finest:
- ILWU workers, dependents and retirees currently receive fully employer paid health care, with no premiums, no in-network deductibles or co-pays, $1 prescriptions and 100 percent coverage of basic hospital, medical and surgical benefits.
- These benefits already cost employers $35,000 per worker per year; under the PMA offer, benefits would be fully maintained.
- A recent study by the University of Chicago ranked the cost of the ILWU plan in the nation’s top 1 percent – a trend that is likely to continue under the PMA’s latest offer.
Major recent pension upgrades would be extended:
- The current maximum ILWU pension benefit is $79,920 per year, which is more than double the maximum benefit that was available as recently as 2002.
- The PMA proposal would increase the maximum pension benefit by 11.1% to $88,800 per year.
Additional contract provisions include:
- Existing pay guarantees would be increased to 40 hours per week.
- ILWU would hold jurisdiction over maintenance and repair of truck chassis.
Further information is available at the PMA website: www.pmanet.org.