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Agreement Reached In West Coast Port Labor Dispute

Cargo containers at the Port of Los Angeles

Just over a week after business groups appealed to the Biden administration for help resolving a labor dispute at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union reached a tentative agreement.

The deal’s full terms weren't released, according to CBNC, but the contract is for six years and covers the 29 ports on the West Coast. The agreement follows a year of negotiations and is expected to be ratified by both sides, bringing the dispute to an end.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating,” ILWU President Willie Adams and PMA President James McKenna said in a joint statement Wednesday night. “We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”

Dockworkers at Southern California ports generally kept up their regular working pace as negotiations took place, clearing a backlog that accumulated earlier in the pandemic. But concerns over the labor dispute slowed cargo volume coming into the ports. That slowdown trickled into the local industrial market, bumping up vacancy rates for warehouse properties.

The nation’s supply chains rely heavily on the proper functioning of West Coast ports, especially those in LA and Long Beach, the two busiest ports in the country. That is why retailers, only recently recovered from a long period of supply shortages brought on by the coronavirus, appealed to President Joe Biden in a statement earlier this month. 

Biden responded by dispatching acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to San Francisco, where she assisted in finalizing the deal reached Wednesday.

Los Angeles politicians welcomed news of the agreement.

“About 40% of West Coast imports come through the Port of Los Angeles, which generates 1 in 15 jobs here in Los Angeles,” LA Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement. “Thank you to the dockworkers and terminal operators who continue to make our Port go  know that we will continue to do all we can to ensure it continues to prosper.”