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Ports & Terminals

ILWU’S Adams: “We will get an agreement”

Willie Adams, president International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), said he expected a contract agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) will be reached but will take time: “We will get an agreement. It takes both sides. Right now, we’re getting ready. Sometime in May, we’re going to sit down, we’re going to get an agreement.

However, Adams urged that dock workers’ contributions be given fair consideration: “Instead of people writing (and) saying things like ‘you’re going to throw the baby out with the bathwater,’ and that this or that is going to happen they ought to be talking about the positive things out of COVID … all the good things that have come out of this. So much of the focus has been on the ports, the infrastructure, so many good things that are going to benefit Americans and American workers. And we were there when the President signed his Infrastructure Bill, isn’t this what we want to leave? … something better for the next generation?”

Adams spoke during a media briefing hosted by the Port of Los Angeles April 12, 2022.

In an interview with AJOT, Gene Seroka, executive director, Port of Los Angeles said, he was hopeful that contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association will result in a contract for U.S. West Coast ports without a repeat of the disruptions that occurred during the 2014-2015 negotiations: “I believe there is reason to have optimism about the resolution of contract negotiations between the ILWU and the PMA. They do have seasoned negotiators on both sides of the table. Each understands what’s at stake with respect to the American economy. The twenty-nine ports from Washington State down to San Diego represent about twelve percent of our nation’s GDP with countless job opportunities and with cargo coming in as never before. The contract will not be resolved by the end of the current agreements expiring so there is no reason to get nervous there. The ILWU has not gone on strike since the early 1970s. The rank-and-file members take a great deal of pride in what they are doing, and they want to keep America’s economy moving but they need to be paid what they’re worth.”

Willie Adams, president International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)
Willie Adams, president International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)

Port of Los Angeles Reports Growth

In the media briefing Seroka reported that the Port continued to experience positive growth with container volume in March reaching 958,020 TEUs. In the April 12th media briefing, Seroka noted:

Imports in March rose to 495,195 TEUs, an increase of one percent over March 2021

Exports declined to 111,781 TEUs, a decrease of nine percent over March 2021: “Exports have now declined thirty-seven of the last forty-one months here in Los Angeles.”

Empty containers rose to 351,697 TEUs, an increase of two percent over March 2021

Seroka ascribed the Port’s performance as due to “better fluidity on our docks… with fewer vessels waiting in the queue and more velocity on the terminals… second, more workers on the docks with fewer shifts getting cut… we also have a lot more room to maneuver on our tarmacs… and third, we’re using data more than ever to see around corners and over hills to address issues before they become problems.”

Seroka added that: “rail volume has increased sixfold in the last month alone. Today there are about sixteen thousand containers waiting on on-dock rail, almost double from last fall.

ILWU Contributions

Seroka introduced International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) president Willie Adams and ILWU Coast Committeeman Frank Ponce De Leon.

Seroka commended the work and sacrifice of longshore dockworkers who had kept the ports of Los Angeles and other West Coast ports operational during the pandemic.

Adams described the contribution of longshore dock workers as: “they are true American heroes; they have been doing this work for over eighty years. I think if anybody deserves Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year,’ it is the men and women of the mighty ILWU.”

Frank Ponce de Leon described the hardships longshore workers had endured during the pandemic: “For the last two years, this period of COVID has been hard and painful. People did not take notice of the ports until we had twenty-four people die within twenty-four days… our people never stopped showing up to work and kept the cargo moving. We made sure our stores and our hospitals, and the medical people got the supplies they needed.”

New Training Center

Seroka discussed the plans for a new training center at the Port of Los Angeles to upgrade the skills of longshore workers.

Adams noted: “This training center is for the younger generation to upgrade their skills going into the future. They need to know that they can get a job down here on this waterfront and have the skills. We are leaving something behind for them that is tangible… The PMA has to step up. They have been missing in action.”

Adams said that “the Port, the Biden Administration, and the State of California have all supported the training center.”

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis

WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT

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