Bill Mongelluzzo writes about an attempt to get the labor situation at West Coast Ports under control. The two sides are meeting at the urging of a cargo owner and shipper group that was drastically affected by the last strike.
Ocean carriers last time were quite critical of the Pacific Maritime Association, the negotiator for the terminals, and how they handled the negotiations, blaming them for the length of the disabling strike. The strike alone probably accounted for half the diversion of traffic toward East Coast ports. The Port of Los Angeles has just barely recovered.
The union, the ILWU, was just doing what they are supposed to; pick a crucial business period, and strike if the PMA did not negotiate in what they view as good faith. That’s what labor unions do; it’s how they make progress for their members, the port workers. What other strategy can they have? By ironing out difficulties in advance, the hope is that when the strike period comes around again the agreement can be adjusted to everyone’s satisfaction easily without a work stoppage.
East Coast Ports are doing the same kind of pre-negotiation. Everyone is afraid of a shutdown like the last one in prime shipping season.