The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association said late Monday they had "agreed to take a 72-hour break from negotiations on a new coast-wide contract while the ILWU attends to an unrelated negotiation taking place in the Pacific Northwest." The subject of that negotiation was not specified, but it is believed to be related to the ongoing talks with operators of grain elevators in Washington and Oregon.
They said the break would begin today, Tuesday at 8 a.m. PDT and extend through 8 a.m. PDT on Friday.
The parties said they have agreed to extend the previous six-year contract, which expired last week on July 1.
The contract extension could avert a looming crisis at the two ports because it means arbitration procedures under the old contract are re-instituted.
That could prevent a strike organized by Teamster-backed drayage drivers that began Monday from spreading to the marine terminals in the two ports because when ILWU workers honored a picket line thrown up by drayage drivers last year, an ILWU-PMA arbitrator ruled that the picket lines were not "bona fide," and ILWU members returned to their jobs.
Yesterday the three drayage companies being targeted by Teamster drivers reportedly did not send their drivers to the port, and picket lines were not set up at the marine terminals, many of which were closed anyway for an ILWU holiday.