Bill Mongelluzzo, December 15, 2014, JOC.com
In a give-and-take effort that may push contract negotiations forward, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is waiting for the Pacific Maritime Association to respond to its comments on the latest offer from U.S. West Coast employers.
ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees said the PMA at the end of last week forwarded a “new proposal” to the union. ILWU negotiators met internally over the weekend, and returned the proposal with the union’s comments. The ILWU caucus in San Francisco that opened Monday morning addressed the document and is awaiting the PMA’s response.
PMA spokesman Steve Getzug confirmed that the employers presented the ILWU with their offer on Thursday. The ILWU today responded with its counter proposals. The PMA is considering the union’s response and anticipates that it will get back together with the ILWU “later this week,” Getzug said.
The ILWU caucus of about 90 union delegates from all of the ports is waiting for a response from the PMA that “hopefully” will result in an eventual settlement, Merrilees said. The document that is being discussed addresses concerns that had been expressed by both parties, he added, without going into any of the details.
In a process that takes place during every contract negotiation, the ILWU and PMA discuss for months — in this case the past seven months — the details of a new contract. When the process has reached a stage where there is something substantive to consider, the ILWU calls together its delegates from throughout the coast to a caucus in San Francisco.
The caucus will review the PMA’s response to the ILWU’s comments and will make recommendations to the ILWU negotiating team. If the caucus recommends acceptance of the document as it stands, the next step is for the ILWU to bring it to the union’s membership for a vote, a process that can take several weeks.
Meanwhile, the ILWU slowdowns that have contributed to severe port congestion at West Coast ports continue Getzug said. Vessel backlogs also continue. The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported Monday morning there were four container ships at anchor and awaiting berths. That was one fewer than on Sunday.