The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which begins negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on a new three-year coast-wide contract, released the following statement from CEO Joseph Miniace:
“Today the PMA and ILWU being their most important negotiations in decades.
“Forty years ago, the PMA and ILWU came together to sign one of the most significant labor pacts of our time, the Modernization and Mechanization (M&M) Agreement. That agreement ushered in the era of containerized shipping that has enabled West Coast ports to become a world leader in international trade, generating economic activity of nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars a year-roughly equal to the GDP of Spain or Canada.
“It is time for a new M&M agreement for the 21st century. The West Coast ports have become a bottleneck in the global supply chain. Growing congestion on the terminals, if unaddressed, will stifle economic growth. With four million jobs nationwide depending on West Coast ports- and with that trade expected to double in the next 10 years- it is essential that we find ways to fix this bottleneck in the global supply chain.
“Modernizing our workplace is the number one priority of these contract negotiations. Introducing simple information technology and modern workplace is the number one priority of these contract negotiations. Introducing simple information technology and modern workplace practices used in ports throughout the world will enable the West Coast to remain competitive by relieving mounting congestion. Already, ports in Europe and Asia are far more efficient, enabling their workers to achieve productivity levels not yet seen here on the West coast. Furthermore, this simple information technology will also assist port security by allowing for a seamless identification of the chain of custody for containers.
“PMA makes these commitments: We will come to the table in good faith. We will work with the union to implement technology and introduce modern work practices. We will guarantee a job for every current longshore worker, and will create systems to allow workers to share in the rewards of enhanced productivity.
“I am optimistic that the union shares our goal of implementing workplace changes and existing technology in the most optimal and equitable manner.
“It is our hope to conclude these negotiations with a far-reaching agreement that will bring our ports into the 21st century. Just like the M&M Agreement of the 1960s, this new contract can usher in a new era of prosperity and growth on the West Coast waterfront.”