Dockworkers and their employers at 29 West Coast ports will keep cargo at the busiest US maritime operations moving as they negotiate a new labor contract, avoiding a repeat of the stoppages and delays that plagued supply chains in the 2014 talks, the head of the port of Long Beach said.
“I do believe that we’re not going to have a prolonged negotiation much less any slowdown or strike -- so I’m very comfortable with how we are right now at the nation’s largest and most significant gateway,” Executive Director Mario Cordero said in an interview at Bloomberg News’ New York office Monday. “This is not what we saw in 2014, by no means.”
Long Beach is among 29 ports on the US West Coast awaiting the outcome of labor talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union -- which represents 22,000 dockworkers -- and the Pacific Maritime Association, negotiating on behalf of more than 70 employers.
The employees have been working without a contract since their previous pact expired July 1, and both sides have vowed to avoid a repeat of the 2014 negotiations, which resulted in the US facing nine months of disruptions and shipping delays that only ended after the Obama administration intervened.
Last week saw marathon 20-hour negotiations stave off a strike by 125,000 freight-rail workers after the White House -- through Labor Secretary Marty Walsh -- brokered a preliminary contract between unions and employers. A work stoppage would have snarled US logistics and fueled red-hot inflation, while putting Democrats at greater risk of losing control of Congress in the midterms.
“The engagement by the White House and the labor secretary was very beneficial to ultimately having the parties come to a meeting of minds,” Cordero said. “I’m not too sure it’s going to reach this point with the ILWU-PMA discussions, but if in fact it does, hypothetically, I wouldn’t be surprised you’d have a similar engagement.”