Eight days and billions of dollars in lost trade later, the L.A./Long Beach port strike has come to an end. After a day of federal mediation, the ILWU clerical workers agreed to a tentative settlement.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said federal mediators from Washington DC had helped broker a tentative agreement reached during Tuesday night.
“The negotiating team has voted to approve a contract that they’ll take to their members,” he said.
“I think it’s appropriate to say ’mission accomplished’.”
The mayor also confirmed that the shipping authorities would not outsource staff – a key issue in talks with port employers that have been going on for around two years.
Workers will return to work today, a union official confirmed.
As attentive readers already know, outsourcing was a phony Big Labor claim.
ILWU Local 63-OCU President John Fageaux thanked union members for “having the courage to stand against powerful employers in order to protect good jobs into the future”.
…The agreement will not be finalised, however, until union members have voted.
Together, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handle about 44% of all cargo that arrives in the US by sea. The cargo stacked up on the docks and in adjacent rail yards or, in many cases, remained on arriving ships. Some of those ships were diverted to other ports along the west coast.
Estimates from management and retailers are that the strike was costing the US economy up to $1 billion a day. Tens of thousands of truckers, railroad, warehouse and other support workers were also temporarily out of work because the strike has stopped the flow of goods they normally handle.
It’s not over. It’s never over.
Remember: The East Coast/Gulf Coast shutdown, where highly-paid longshoremen’s union workers are fighting modernization efforts and anti-corruption reform, is just around the corner. Here’s the very latest on that:
The global logistics industry dodged a bullet of sorts when the union representing East and Gulf Coast dock workers and the association representing 14 ports and their terminal operations agreed in late September to extend the contract from its original expiration on September 30 to Dec. 29. That deal avoided strike in the midst of the peak import season that could have caused a level of logistics chaos and driven up costs for shippers and importers.
The royalty payments reached $211 million in 2011 alone, averaging some $15,500 per worker at the 14 affected ports.
Well sure enough, that new deadline is just around the corner once again, as saber rattling from both the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) that represents the port interests in the negotiations do node bode well for a settlement, with the next rounds of talks not scheduled until days before the extended contract ends.
One somewhat freshly exposed bone of contention: a dated “container royalty” system that is a windfall for the union and union members that the ILA president says is off-limits in terms of negotiations.
The next round of negotiations are scheduled to start Dec. 20, just nine days before the contract ends, and planned to last three days or longer if necessary.
But in recent days, ILA leader Harold Daggett has said that several key issues to USMX, including overtime, working hours and caps to the container royalties system, will not be considered as part of the discussions.
Meanwhile, USMX CEO James Capo, called the ILA leadership “uncompromising,” saying that they “view bargaining as a one-way street that leads only in their direction.”
Backward and down, not forward and up. It’s the union way.
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