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Now we’re talking: West Coast port labor negotiations get a middle man

Logistics Management

Allison Beck, Acting Director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, issued the following statement today on the labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA):

“In response to a joint request for assistance from the parties, collective bargaining between ILWU and PMA representatives will continue as soon as possible under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). We are prepared and ready to render prompt assistance. Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, a senior FMCS mediator with extensive collective bargaining experience in this industry, has been assigned to help the parties bring these important negotiations to a mutually acceptable resolution.”

As is Agency practice, the FMCS is not releasing information regarding future meeting dates and locations. In addition, the FMCS will have no further comment at this time regarding the status or substance of the negotiations.

The PMA has been calling for such mediation for some time, while the ILWU has resisted this measure…until now.

In any case, shippers should welcome the news.

West Coast ports will have to do much to recover from this prolonged episode and part of their mission will require innovation. The expanded Panama Canal is scheduled to open late this year or in early 2016, bringing with it the potential for more direct shipment between Asia and the East Coast.

That means West Coast ports will need to prove themselves as efficient, reliable and cost-effective. At the same time, labor and management must continue to ensure that these ports are safe, secure and environmentally responsible.

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