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Tentative Deal Reached in Ports Talks

In case you missed it late last week, West Coast dockworkers and their employer have reached a tentative agreement regarding automated machinery at cargo terminals, a major point of contention in their labor talks, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “A person familiar with the talks said the agreement covered terms over the use of automation, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in negotiations that began nearly a year ago, leaving wages as one of the main dividing points in reaching a new multiyear agreement. The tentative agreement marks the first significant advance in the talks since a pact on healthcare benefits was reached last summer.”

  • The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have been negotiating a labor contract since May 2022.
  • The tentative deal came about a week after the PMA issued a statement alleging that ILWU “withheld labor that shut down terminals throughout the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”
  • “The PMA released a statement later Thursday saying key issues remain unresolved and that some dockworkers in Southern California continue to disrupt port operations,” according to the Journal.

Why it’s important: A June 2022 NAM-commissioned study found that if the current labor uncertainty becomes a complete shutdown at just the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, after 15 days the U.S. economy could lose $500 million a day and approximately 41,000 jobs.

  • In March the NAM joined a coalition urging the Biden administration to intervene in the stalled talks. “[T]he only way to resolve these issues is for the parties to remain at the bargaining table and actually negotiate,” the coalition told President Biden. “We encourage the administration to provide any and all support to the parties in their negotiations to reach a final agreement.”
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