Seroka was one of the several speakers at a press conference held on the deck of the USS Iowa Monday where speakers thanked various individuals for their part in helping the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association reach a tentative contract agreement on Friday. The agreement still must be approved by the rank and file of the ILWU and members of PMA.
“I don’t know about everyone, but I had a great weekend, this last weekend, seeing all of our workers out there at the docks, seeing the cans move through our two ports,” said Robert Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach. “Cans” is a common slang term for shipping containers.
Bobby Olvera Jr., the president of Local 13 of the ILWU, said, “I want to give you a commitment from the 7,000 members of Local 13. And if you are listening to this in Connecticut or back East buried in snow, your goods are on their way. We are going to work seven days a week, around the clock to get those containers moved, to get the cargo on the shelves and, as I told my son this morning, we are going to make sure the Easter Bunny visits everybody in the United States this year.”
Seroka said there were 22 ships working at the terminals in the two ports as the press conference was taking place, another 35 at anchor and two dozen more on their way to the Southern California ports.
He said the tentative agreement “paves the way for our supply chain partners to come together and address the new industry dynamics in a way they have not yet done.”
Seroka also said revisions to a cooperation working agreement the ports have filed with the U.S. Federal Maritime Agreement “will enable the ports to reach new levels of cooperation and collaboration,” such as working to improve drayage cargo flow and promote the “San Pedro trade gateway.”
Rep. Janice Hahn said congestion at the port highlighted the importance of the ports to the nation’s economy. “I was getting calls from every Congress member representing every state in the country who was worried about getting the docks up and running again,” she said.
To prevent the discord between union and management that resulted in cargo backups at ports during the most recent negotiations, L.A. Mayor Robert Garcetti said he would like to see a “West Coast Alliance” created to “broaden the parties’ perspectives,” pointing to the relationship between automakers and the United Auto Workers, where he said the “UAW sits at the table and makes decisions with Ford Motor Co. They make tough decisions together and they have labor peace and are able to move forward and our car industry has rebounded. That is the sort of model we want to see here in place.”