Pacific port parties to talk contract

Containers are stacked Jan. 28 at the Port of Tacoma. The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have agreed to discuss the idea of a contract extension and have tentatively scheduled talks for Nov. 1 and 2.

The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have agreed to talk about extending their contract that expires July 1, 2019.

Inability of the two parties to reach an agreement two years ago led to a union slowdown of work for months at 29 West Coast ports that cost farmers, manufacturers and retailers across the western U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars in losses because they could not get goods to markets.

In a joint news release, Sept. 27, the PMA and ILWU said they have agreed to discuss the idea of a contract extension and have tentatively scheduled talks for Nov. 1 and 2. Neither side will make any additional comments prior to the talks, the release states.

At a February conference in Long Beach, Calif., the presidents of ILWU and PMA said they were willing to raise the possibility extending the contract.

In light of that, nine members of Congress, led by Washington Republican Reps. Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert, sent both parties a letter urging them to find ways to prevent future port disruptions. Members of Congress from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Colorado and American Samoa signed the letter.

The PMA represents 78 shippers and terminal operators in negotiating and administering maritime labor agreements with the ILWU. The ILWU represents about 14,200 workers at the 29 ports. Both organizations are headquartered in San Francisco.

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