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U.S. West Coast dockworkers ratify new collective agreement


More than one year of uncertainty has ended at U.S. West Coast ports with the ratification by some 20,000 dockworkers belonging to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) of a tentative contract reached in June with port employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). This follows an agreement reached In early August by ILWU Canada with port employers in British Columbia which terminated a tumultuous, weeks-long contract dispute that paralyzed industries and supply chains across Canada.

Retroactive from July 1, 2022, the new six-year contract covers dockers at all 29 West Coast ports – notably the biggest U.S. port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The ILWU members voted 75% in favor of approving the new agreement, which will expire July 1, 2028. Voting results were certified Thursday by the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee.

The union did not release the details, but indicated that the new deal would provide good-paying jobs while improving wages, pensions and safety protections. According to Reuters news agency, the agreement a 32% pay increase for ILWU members over the next six years. PMA reports that the average earnings for full-time ILWU longshoremen are currently about $200,000 per year. Thus, the raises would bring average dockworker wages to about $260,000 per year by 2029 (not including union clerks and foremen, who earn more.) Employer-paid benefits packages add another $100,000 per year, including 401k, guaranteed-benefit pensions and health insurance coverage. 

“The negotiations for this contract were protracted and challenging,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “I am grateful to our rank and file for their strength, to our Negotiating Committee for their vision and tenacity, and to those that supported giving the ILWU and PMA the space that we needed to get to this result.”

“This contract provides an important framework for the hard work ahead to overcome new competitive challenges and to continue to position the West Coast ports as destinations of choice for shippers worldwide,” said PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna. “From San Diego to Bellingham, these ports have long been the primary gateways for cargo coming into and leaving the United States, and our interests are aligned in ensuring they can effectively, and efficiently, handle the capacity growth that drives economies and jobs.’’

(Photo of Port of Long Beach)