PMA Statement

Contact:     Steve Getzug (310) 633-9444
(213) 219-8990 (mobile)

PMA Statement on West Coast Waterfront
Labor Negotiations

SAN FRANCISCO (July 11, 2008) -- The Pacific Maritime Association, whose 71 member companies include cargo carriers, terminal operators and stevedores on the West Coast, issued the following statement today:

This morning we learned of a concerning development on the docks in Southern California:  the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) ordered workers to change standard workplace practices without the approval or knowledge of the employers.

Specifically, the ILWU leaders ordered members to take "unit breaks" whereby ILWU workers take breaks at the same time, rather than staggered breaks that allow continuous flow of operations.  While it is not yet clear what impact, if any, this move will have on productivity, it is concerning to us that the Union has taken this step unilaterally during such a sensitive time in the contract negotiations.

Under our labor contract and longstanding practice, unit breaks are permissible only if the employers request it.  That is not the case today.  It is also worth noting that this action has been found to be an illegal work stoppage in the past, according to arbitration awards.  As there is no contract currently in place, there is no means to arbitrate this matter.

Again, we are waiting to see what impact, if any, this will have on productivity. In the meantime, we look forward to a return to normal work-practice and a resumption of workplace processes consistent with the way the terminals at Los Angeles and Long Beach run every other day of the year.

PMA remains committed to reaching a labor agreement that is fair and reasonable to both sides and keeping the West Coast ports running smoothly as negotiations proceed. 

Keeping the ports open, productive and secure are critical to the American economy.  The West Coast ports generate almost $1.3 trillion in domestic business impacts – representing 11 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product – and support more than 8 million direct and indirect U.S. jobs.

The contract covers wages, benefits and conditions of employment for the more than 26,000 ILWU members and identified casuals working at 29 West Coast ports in California, Oregon and Washington.

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