West Coast longshore talks come to a head

Union reportedly has comprehensive offer.

Excerpt from American Shipper |  By Chris Dupin |  February 3, 2015

Contract talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association appear to be coming to a head as the number of ships at anchor of West Coast Ports continues to grow.

The PMA, which represents terminal operators up and down the West Coast, has provided a comprehensive offer to the union that the two sides are expected to continue to discuss today at a meeting in San Francisco.

“We are pretty much at the end of negotiations,” one management source said. “We gave them a good offer.”

Peter Friedmann, the executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition says that he has heard diametrically opposed reports about the possibility of a lockout of ILWU workers if an agreement cannot be reached soon.

Apparently the ILWU’s jurisdiction over chassis repairs remains a key issue, with the union wanting the ability to reopen contract negotiations if a tentative agreement reached on chassis last month is subsequently over turned by courts or by the Federal Maritime Commission.

Meanwhile, there continues to be heavy congestion at West Coast ports.

This morning there were 22 ships at anchor off the of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on, three less than on Tuesday.

Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California said as of 7 a.m. Tuesday there were 25 congestion vessels at anchor including 20 containerships.

Louttit said that the port is using “contingency anchorages” to handle the large number of ships at anchor. There were 7 ships in contingency anchorages this morning. There have been no issues or negative effects on safety, security or environment, he said.