Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — which includes more than 14,200 workers at West Coast ports — will have the chance to vote to extend their current contract with employers for another three years.
If the rank and file members vote affirmatively, it could provide labor stability at ports up and down the West Coast. The current contract expires on July 1, 2019, but retailers and shippers alike have urged ILWU and its employers, the Pacific Maritime Association, to come to an early pact. Doing so would avoid a repeat of the eight-month labor deadlock that led to West Coast ports — including the ports of Tacoma and Seattle — experiencing large-scale cargo slowdowns that severely affected productivity.
The decision to let rank and file members vote comes after nearly 90 ILWU delegates from 29 West Coast ports convened last week in San Francisco. The extension proposal itself was initiated by the PMA, which is offering to extending the contract until July 1, 2022, with a 3.1 percent yearly wage increase over the base wage rate of $42.18 per hour.
“One of the ILWU’s Guiding Principles is that the rank-and-file members will make the best decision
when they have the facts and an opportunity to decide for themselves, and that’s how this will be decided,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath in a statement from the union. “The rank-and-file membership always have the final say on any contract – including this nonprecedent-setting proposed extension,” McEllrath said.
Per the union’s statement, the vote will occur on a schedule according to the union’s internal rules.