The International Longshoremen's Association and U.S. Maritime Alliance have reached a tentative agreement for a new six-year master contract.
George H. Cohen, director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which had been assisting the two sides in contract talks said "the tentative agreement is subject to the ratification procedures of both parties and, as well, to agreements being achieved in a number of local union negotiations."
In a press release
issued late Friday night, Cohen said "Those local negotiations are ongoing and will continue without interruption to any port operation. Out of respect for the parties’ ratification processes, and consistent with the Agency’s long-standing confidentiality policy, we will not disclose any details concerning the substantive provisions that have been reached.”
The current contract between the ILA and its employers represented by USMX was originally due to expire Sept. 30, but was twice extended, first to late December, and then to next Wednesday, Feb. 6.
The ILA-USMX master contract covers more than 14,500 ILA members who handle containerized cargoes in 14 U.S. East and Gulf coast ports.
Shippers expressed some relief with the progress of the talks, but want the ILA and USMX to press forward to a final contract to prevent any port disruptions.
“We urge the parties to quickly complete any outstanding negotiations, including local negotiations at each of the individual 14 ports, and quickly ratify the new labor agreement," said National Retail Federation President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay in a statement Saturday morning.
“If the tentative agreement holds, the new labor contract will bring much-needed certainty and predictability to the supply chain for retailers, manufacturers, farmers and other industries that rely on the ports to move the nation’s commerce and trade," he added. - Chris Dupin