Contract talks near for thousands of West Coast dockworkers

May 6, 2022, 3:30 AM | Updated: 4:33 pm
FILE - A truck arrives to pick up a shipping container near vessels moored at Maersk APM Terminals ...

FILE - A truck arrives to pick up a shipping container near vessels moored at Maersk APM Terminals Pacific at the Port of Los Angeles, on Nov. 30, 2021. Contract negotiations between 22,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports and representatives of shipping companies will begin next week with automation and its impact on jobs emerging as a major point of contention amid supply chain issues. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Contract negotiations between 22,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports and representatives of shipping companies will begin next week with automation and its impact on jobs emerging as a major point of contention amid supply chain issues.

Talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association will take place against the backdrop of pandemic safety issues, surging imports that left backlogs of ships anchored offshore, and declining exports.

The current contract expires July 1.

Negotiations are expected to extend past that date, Pacific Maritime Association President and CEO Jim McKenna said Friday during an online briefing hosted by Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka.

“I think everybody is optimistic going into this one that we’re gonna get where we need,” McKenna said. “Whether we go past July 1 or not is not the issue. It’s just we need to stay at the table and get an agreement without causing any further disruptions.”

But with contract talks looming, the ILWU has reacted strongly to the release early this month of a report commissioned by the Pacific Maritime Association that strongly supported automated cargo handling and found that it did not hurt jobs.

“It’s obvious that the PMA is issuing its report as posturing as we go into negotiations,” union official Frank Ponce De Leon said in a statement Friday.

“However, much of what their report claims is counter to numerous previous reports on automated terminals that cite job loss and weakened efficiencies. The bottom line is that automation has killed jobs at the ports,” he wrote.

ILWU International President Willie Adams asserted in a separate letter that automation also poses a national security risk by placing ports at risk of being hacked.

Asked if he was concerned that the automation report would cause talks to begin with animosity, McKenna said there was nothing significant in the timing.

“We’ve had these discussions on an ongoing basis with the ILWU and they’re always difficult conversations,” he said. “I would say the very simple (reason) why the report was released when it was it’s because it was finished. It wasn’t any special timing.”

West Coast ports are key links to trade with Asia. The 29 ports represent approximately 12% of the nation’s gross domestic product, Seroka said.

The Port of Los Angeles and the neighboring Port of Long Beach, known as the San Pedro Bay port complex, collectively handle more than 30% of waterborne containerized imports and exports in the U.S.

The surge of imports during the pandemic has led to logjams of ships anchored off Southern California waiting to be unloaded and difficulties in moving cargo off the docks fast enough.

Seroka said those problems persist, especially for cargo destined to move out by rail, but the backlog of waiting ships has improved.

Ships are now staged 150 miles (241 kilometers) offshore for reasons including keeping pollution from affecting coastal communities.

“We’ve worked those down from a peak of 109 ships waiting back in January to today’s number of 35,” Seroka said. “There’s still much more work to do, but very encouraging.”

Forty-six ships were en route from Asia as of Friday.

McKenna said contract negotiations will cover hours, wages, working conditions and other topics, but he would not comment specifically on those issues or discuss the Pacific Maritime Association’s key goals in the contract.

“Hopefully everybody is focused to the point that there will be no further disruption to a fragile supply chain,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Seattle Mariners including Jesse Winker, left; Ty France, third from right; Logan Gilbert, second f...
Tim Booth, Associated Press

Mariners end two decades of misery returning to postseason

Baseball is fun again in the Pacific Northwest in a way that it hasn’t been in more than two decades. The longest postseason drought in the four major professional sports ended Friday night when the Mariners earned a long-coveted spot in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
13 hours ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Monday 10/3/2022

Wall Street rallied to its best day since late July as falling bond yields eased some of the pressure that’s battered markets. The S&P 500 rose 2.6% Monday, the latest swing for a scattershot market that’s been mostly falling this year on worries about a possible global recession. Treasury yields fell after a report on […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Viasat, Myovant rise; Tesla, Twitter fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Tesla Inc., down $22.85 to $242.40. The electric vehicle maker’s third-quarter delivery figures disappointed Wall Street. Exxon Mobil Corp., up $4.61 to $91.92. Energy stocks gained ground along with rising U.S. crude oil prices. Viasat Inc., up $8.14 to $38.37. The provider of satellite and wireless networking technology is selling its […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

2 guilty of violating Floyd’s rights to begin federal term

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two of the four former Minneapolis police officers who were convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights during the May 2020 restraint that killed him are scheduled to begin serving their federal sentences Tuesday. J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are scheduled to report to the U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday morning. […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

UN chief urges Yemen rivals: No new violence and renew truce

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Yemen’s warring parties on Monday to refrain from any provocations that could escalate violence. The move follows the failure to extend a nationwide cease-fire and to engage with each other to renew the truce. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary-general is disappointed that the internationally […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

NC Supreme Court weighs if voter ID tainted by racial bias

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s long-litigated photo voter identification law was appraised at the state Supreme Court on Monday. Justices heard arguments on whether it was reasonable for trial judges to throw out the law that they determined was tainted by racial bias and designed to help Republicans retain their grip on the legislature. […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Contract talks near for thousands of West Coast dockworkers