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July 3, 2023

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12 Journal of Commerce | J uly 3, 2023 Cover Story Two sources close to the negoti- ations said the tentative agreement calls for a wage increase of $4.62 per hour in the first year and increases of $2 per hour in each of the remaining five years of the contract. In addi- tion, a one-time $70 million bonus intended to reward dockworkers for remaining on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic will be divided equally among all union members. "It's a good contract," one of the sources said. In past contracts going back more than 20 years, the aver- age wage increase in each year of the contracts was 50 cents to $1.50 per hour, according to the PMA's 2022 annual report. The tentative agreement also stipulates that a certain number of mechanics must be assigned to work at automated terminals, but the demand by ILWU locals in Southern California for increased manning requirements for cer- tain cargo-handling equipment The week had begun on a tense note, as sources said negotiators for the ILWU and PMA were working under a self-imposed 72-hour dead- line. US Labor Secretary nominee Julie Su, who arrived in San Francisco June 12 to offer her assistance, also said she would remain in the Bay Area until an agreement was reached. "... The tentative agreement delivers important stability for workers, for employers and for our country's supply chain," Su said in a statement. Following the announcement, port productivity and worker dis- patching returned to normal at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and the Northwest Seaport Alliance of Seattle and Tacoma, terminal operators told the Journal of Commerce. "Things are running pretty well," one source who asked not to be identified said June 16. What's in the contract? The full details of the ILWU-PMA contract, which covers all 29 ports along the US West Coast, have not been released, but sources tell the Journal of Commerce it includes a 32% salary increase over the next six years, retroactive to July 1, 2022, when the previous contract expired. Longshore workers did not, however, receive the increased manning requirements they sought during negotiations. The tentative contract between US West Coast longshore workers and their employers is undoubtedly a win for shippers, who no longer have to sleep with one eye open for fear of labor action disrupting West Coast port operations, as well as members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), whose wages will rise by nearly one-third over the life of the six-year deal. But for port authorities and ter- minal operators, although they will likely be able to lure back some of the cargo diverted during negotiations, changing trade patterns and increased competition from ports along the East and Gulf coasts could spell the end of the West Coast's dominance. The June 14 agreement ended 13 months of contentious talks marked by on-again, off-again job actions that included the insuffi- cient dispatching of workers and operating cranes far below normal productivity levels, as well as any unease over the possibility of a full- blown strike or employer lockout. "We are ... pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast ports," the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents terminal operators and ocean carriers in coast- wide labor negotiations, said in a joint statement. "You're too expensive, you have very unique labor issues and you are over-regulated."

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