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Port Labor Negotiations Drag On

Talks between dockworkers and their employers on West Coast ports are still at an impasse, delaying negotiations regarding wages and automation, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

The issue: Labor contract negotiations between dockworkers and employers that formally began in May 2022 have shown no recent progress, even as shipping industry and government officials had projected a potential resolution before the end of the year.  

  • Larger contract talks, including contentious discussions about wages and expanded automation at port facilities, have been complicated by longstanding regional issues between union representatives and management.

The effects: Because of this uncertainty and the potential for significant operational disruption, many shippers have been shifting cargo to ports along the East and Gulf coasts.

  • Until progress is made, or a contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association is finalized, cargo throughput and overall container processing along West Coast port sites is expected to remain in decline as volumes increase along alternative routes.

What we’re saying: “Domestic shipping supply chains have created historic tumult and uncertainty over the past several years, affecting production and delivery timetables for manufacturers across the country,” said NAM Director of Infrastructure Policy Ben Siegrist.

  • “The NAM has consistently urged the parties involved in these negotiations to conclude the talks, and we’ve encouraged policymakers and administration officials from the White House to Congress to press for a swift outcome. Operational uncertainty and looming labor strife are an unsustainable combination for economic growth.”
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