Dock­work­ers urged to OK la­bor pact

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By An­drew Khouri an­drew.khouri @la­ Twit­ter: @khourian­drew

A dock­work­ers cau­cus rec­om­mended that union mem­bers ap­prove a ten­ta­tive la­bor agree­ment with ship­ping com­pa­nies that ended months of la­bor strife at West Coast ports.

Seventy-eight per­cent of cau­cus del­e­gates voted Fri­day for ap­proval of the fiveyear pro­posal, the In­ter­na­tional Long­shore & Ware­house Union said. The pro- posed con­tract agree­ment was reached in late Fe­bru­ary af­ter nine months of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The con­tract for about 20,000 dock­work­ers at 29 West Coast ports will now go be­fore union mem­bers for rat­i­fi­ca­tion. Those votes will be tal­lied May 22, the union said.

The con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions were the most con­tentious in more than a decade.

The pro­tracted la­bor dis­pute — along with equip­ment short­ages and var­i­ous changes in the ship­ping in­dus­try — led to se­vere de­lays at ma­jor West Coast ports. Dozens of ships backed up off the na­tion’s busiest ports of Los An­ge­les and Long Beach, un­able to dock.

San Fran­cisco Bay also turned into a float­ing ship park­ing lot, as did the wa­ters out­side the ports of Ta­coma, Wash., and Seat­tle.

The de­lays caused ma­jor headaches for busi­nesses as sales were lost while im­ports lan­guished at sea and ex­ports on land.

The union and the ship­ping com­pa­nies’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the Pa­cific Mar­itime Assn., reached a ten­ta­tive deal Feb. 20. At the time, port of­fi­cials said it could take up to three months to clear the back­log at Los An­ge­les and Long Beach.

De­lays persist, although the ports have since made progress.

On Fri­day morn­ing, there were 13 ships an­chored off the Los An­ge­les and Long Beach ports, un­able to dock, ac­cord­ing to the Marine Ex­change of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. That com­pares to about 30 just be­fore a ten­ta­tive deal was reached.

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