PMA offers contract, Negotiations Continue, Lockout could Occur
News Flash: PMA says it is offering West Coast longshoremen a five year contract with three percent annual wage increases
Management says negotiations will continue but a lockout could occur in 5-10 days.
Jim McKenna, the president and chief executive officer, said that with congestion at terminals increasing and low productivity there could be a gridlock at ports and a lockout in five to 10 days.
“We are going to continue to monitor the network, the system, the vessels and at such point in time that we reach a gridlock situation with any of those three entities. I think our hands will be tied with what we do next. The last thing we want after nine months is to close this place down,” he said.
“We’re this close,” said ILWU President Robert McEllrath, who held up two fingers in a gesture indicating how close the parties are to reaching an agreement. “We’ve dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled — and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved.”
“The system can only take so much,” he added. “At some point the system will collapse under its own weight.
“Long term, these slowdowns undermine the credibility of West Coast ports in an environment that is going to become more competitive with the expansion of the Panama Canal and the increase in trade with the East Coast via the Panama Canal,” said Mckenna. “A lot is at stake here — millions of jobs, and trillions of economic impact hanging in the balance. It’s time to conclude these negotiations and get our ports working again.”
“Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible,” said McEllrath. The ILWU urged a federal mediator who joined the talks last month “to keep both parties at the talks until the nearly-finished agreement is concluded.”