US west coast dockers reject contract extension offer
THE US west coast dockers union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), has rejected proposals to extend the existing labour contract another year, setting the stage for labour unrest, reports Bloomberg.The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing ocean carriers and terminals, proposed extending its current agreement with the ILWU through July 1, 2023. But union president William Adams said: It’s “ironic to ask labour to pass on collective bargaining” when shortages of workers outside of the ports don’t have “wages and working conditions that persuade people to stay and commit their lives to tough physical labour. “We’ve been waiting for seven years to address issues that are important to dockworkers,” said Mr Adams. Said PMA president James McKenna: “There is already a perception among the trade community that negotiations are likely to result in some kind of disruption.” He said the extension would be a “necessary step to protect commerce and our economy during this recovery period”. When companies and workers last discussed contracts in 2014, west coast ports faced nine months of slowdowns that only came to an end when the White House got involved. Originally set to end in 2019, the contracts were extended for three more years after roughly two-thirds of union members voted to lengthen them to avoid cargo disruptions in exchange for higher wages and pensions.