West Coast Ports Could Shut Down in Days

 

Brothers,

The PMA clearly acts just like UP fear and intimidation at its finest…..some information for your reading pleasure

 

 

Long Beach, Calif. Aerial

West Coast Ports Could Shut Down in Days

 

Traffic at nearly 30 West Coast ports is on the verge of “complete gridlock” and shipping officials have threatened to stop paying dockworkers if a contract deal is not reached soon.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Pacific Maritime Association CEO James McKenna said West Coast seaports, which handle some $1 trillion in trade per year, could shut down in the next five to 10 days and cripple U.S. trade with Asia. He said the organization is not considering a technical “lockout,” but warned that the shipping system would inevitably bring itself to a stop if congestion persists.

PMA and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union have been working to negotiate new contracts since May. Nearly 20,000 dockworkers at 29 ports are impacted. PMA says ILWU has conducted slowdowns, walk-offs and other actions at key ports, aggravating congested conditions and disrupting cargo movement in a bid to influence the talks. He said productivity had dropped between 30 percent and 50 percent in recent months, crippling whole strings of vessels, in some cases. It’s like “they’re getting paid to grind us into the ground,” McKenna said.

The union denied the claims and said the congestion crisis was “employer-caused.”

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/west-coast-ports-could-shut-down-days-cripple-asia-trade-n300701

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from Puget sound

West Coast ports could shut down in next 5 days

 

Take the contract, or the imminent shutdown is on you.

That was the message from Pacific Maritime Association President James McKenna Wednesday afternoon.

The PMA offered the International Longshore and Warehouse Union a labor contract Tuesday. McKenna called it the best offer the PMA could come up with.

In the offer, longshore workers receive an annual income of $147,000 with the option of a 3-to-5 percent increase per year and a fully paid health care plan known as a “Cadillac plan.” The Affordable Care Act mandates that the PMA pay a premium on that plan: $35,000 per year, per worker.

The contract would be valid for five years.

The offer includes all the bells and whistles, McKenna said. If the union doesn’t agree to it, he said the ports could shut down in as few as five-to-10 days. He said that the PMA doesn’t want a lockout, but may not have any other choice.

Negotiations are at a point where anything was possible, he said, and that’s why the PMA pulled out all the stops in this contract.

“The PMA must decide how much longer we will pay longshore workers to work slowly,” McKenna said. “It’s the same result as a strike, but they are still getting a paycheck.”

McKenna said he was confident that the two parties could reach an agreement.

The ILWU agreed that they were close to signing a contract.

“We’ve dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled – and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved,” said ILWU President Robert McEllrath.

The ILWU has also offered up a contract in the past, but the PMA did not agree to it.

There are about six major issues outstanding including: wages, pensions, terminal contracts, the arbitration process, how to decide disputes that happen on the docks and how exactly ports operate, McKenna said.

The PMA and ILWU are far apart on about half of them. He didn’t specify which issues they were far apart on.

The PMA and ILWU have been renegotiating an expired labor contract since May 15. The six-year contract ended on July 1.

But beginning on Oct. 31, the PMA accused the ILWU of intentionally slowing down work at the ports to influence talking power. The ILWU denies these claims and says the slowdowns are because of major changes in the industry that make their job more difficult.

Regardless, the slow negotiations have rippled throughout ports all along the West Coast,including the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. In a state where 40 percent of jobs are linked to trade, that’s a big deal. Agricultural products have sat rotting at the docks – the apple industry alone estimated losing about $19 million a week. Import and export businesses have been working at 25 percent normal capacity and are months behind their contracts.Companies have laid off staff because of the lack of work. Traders in China have raised their concern to Port of Seattle staff. Retail importers have had to fly in their products at a high mark-up price.

“Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible,” McEllrath said.

McKenna estimated that West Coast ports were operating an average of 50 percent slower than normal. Nearly 50 ships are anchored at West Coast ports waiting to be unloaded, he said.

“In the very near future, every ship servicing trade will be literally parked on the West Coast of the United States,” he said.

At the beginning of January, both parties requested help resolving negotiation hurdles from a federal mediator after pressure from trade associations, businesses and lawmakers.

The mediator has had a positive impact on negotiations, McKenna said, but he can’t force the two sides to come to agreement on certain issues.

Since the involvement of a mediator, the two parties have determined who will repair and maintain chassis but not the details of how exactly that will happen.

Until now, both the PMA and ILWU have been tight-lipped on the details of negotiations. McKenna’s statements offered a first comprehensive look at what has been stalling negotiations, and ports, for months now.

The offer from the PMA is comprehensive, but it isn’t final.

“We put it all on the table,” McKenna said. “Would I ever say that nothing will change on that agreement? No.”

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ILWU President blasts PMA threat to shut down US ports

Photos of empty docks show that PMA employers, based largely overseas, are worsening a congestion crisis at West Coast ports to pressure American workers

Southern California ports have acres of asphalt waiting for containers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 5, 2015) – ILWU International President RobertMcEllrath today blasted the Pacific Maritime Association for threatening to shut down West Coast ports, bargaining in the media, and distorting the facts. “What the ILWU heard yesterday is a man who makes about one million dollars a year telling the working class that we have more than our share,” saidMcEllrath. “Intensifying the rhetoric at this stage of bargaining, when we are just a few issues from reaching an agreement, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.”In mid-January, PMA claimed that there was a lack of dock space for containers, and it eliminated nightshifts at many ports. Today, the union provided photos disputing the employer group’s assertion that docks are too congested to unload ships.

“PMA is leaving ships at sea and claiming there’s no space on the docks, but there are acres of asphalt just waiting for the containers on those ships, and hundreds of longshore workers ready to unload them,” said McEllrath. “The employers are deliberately worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table.”

The union provided several photos of marine terminals in Southern California that show large tracts of space that would easily fit thousands of containers.

“The employers’ threat to shut down West Coast ports is a reckless and unnecessary move,” said McEllrath. “What the employers need to do is stay at the negotiating table and work through a few remaining issues with the workers who have made them successful for the past 80 years. We are very close to reaching an agreement.”

The PMA is an employer association whose largest members include Denmark-based Maersk Line, Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine, Korean-based Hanjin Shipping, Philippines-based ICTSI, Japan-based NYK Line, Hong Kong-based OOCL, China-based COSCO, and other employers based in France, Norway and worldwide.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is based in San Francisco, Calif., and is negotiating a contract that has covered longshore workers at 30 West Coast ports in California, Oregon and Washington since 1934.

– ILWU news release

 

Longshore workers’ union chief slams employers for West Coast shutdown threat

 

The head of the longshore workers’ union on Thursday slammed a maritime association for portending a shutdown of West Coast ports, calling it “a reckless and unnecessary move.”

Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, especially criticized Pacific Maritime Association CEO Jim McKenna for what he called using bargaining tactics with the media and warping the facts of an imminent closure of ports along the West Coast, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s largest seaport complex handling 40 percent of U.S. imports.

McKenna, whose association represents employers at 29 West Coast ports, on Wednesday spelled out the possibility of an impending shutdown after the PMA’s “best offer” was presented to the ILWU, including 3 percent raises each year and the full payment of employee health care costs.

“What the ILWU heard yesterday is a man who makes about $1 million a year telling the working class that we have more than our share,” McEllrath said in a statement Thursday. “Intensifying the rhetoric at this stage of bargaining, when we are just a few issues from reaching an agreement, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.”

McEllrath said that both sides are “very close” to an agreement.

“The employers’ threat to shut down West Coast ports is a reckless and unnecessary move,” he said. “What the employers need to do is stay at the negotiating table and work through a few remaining issues with the workers who have made them successful for the past 80 years.”

In its released statement, the ILWU also attached photos of wide open spaces to contradict PMA’s decision to suspend night shifts for unloading ships, which the employers group said had to be done due to lack of space in clogged terminal yards.

“PMA is leaving ships at sea and claiming there’s no space on the docks, but there are acres of asphalt just waiting for the containers on those ships, and hundreds of longshore workers ready to unload them,” said McEllrath. “The employers are deliberately worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table.”

PMA officials, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, have denied that the move was punitive.

In the meantime, the mayors of Long Beach and Los Angeles issued a joint statement Thursday calling for an agreement to avoid the potentially catastrophic economic repercussions of a shutdown.

The local ports “are important engines for our local and national economy, so it is critical that both the ILWU and PMA continue talking to quickly reach an agreement and return our ports to efficient operations,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in the statement.

Last month, a federal mediator stepped in to intervene in talks at the request of both sides. Dockworkers have been without a contract since July.

The unresolved talks have worsened bottlenecks at the ports, which are struggling to handle the congestion created by the arrival of bigger ships carrying more cargo, the uneven distribution of chassisand a shortage of rail cars.

This has resulted in ships stranded at sea, long truck lines at terminals and weekslong shipment delays, forcing customers to ship goods by air or divert them to other ports. The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported Thursday that 18 ships sat in the water at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach because of congestion.

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