PMA Announces Four Day Suspension of Vessel Operations; National Retail Federation Calls on White House to Intervene

On behalf of the National Retail Federation, Vice President for Supply Chain Jonathan Gold has issued a statement calling on the White House to take a hand in spurring the close of the ongoing negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

In light of the news that ship loading and unloading operations will be suspended on Thursday and again Saturday through Monday, as reported by the NRF, the statement reads:

“The continued intransigence by labor and management to reach a new contract is unacceptable. Retailers and the rest of the supply chain are frustrated beyond belief.

“The slowdowns need to end. The brinkmanship needs to stop. The ILWU and PMA are delaying cargo and merchandise in the short-term while harming the competitiveness of the West Coast ports in the long-term. This stalemate is hurting American businesses, their employees and consumers.

“If the ILWU and PMA are serious about reaching a new labor contract, they need to remain at the table.

“It’s time for the White House to immediately engage in this critically-important economic priority and force the two sides to remain at the negotiating table until a deal is done. The time for monitoring has passed. The time for action has come.”

Previously: PMA Announces Four Day Suspension of Vessel Operations

2:38PM | The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced Wednesday that due to ongoing International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) slowdowns, PMA members will temporarily suspend premium-pay weekend and holiday vessel operations on four upcoming dates, while terminal operators can decide whether yard, gate and rail operations will continue.

According to the release, Southern California terminal operators will increase daytime vessel operations on non-holiday weekends.

“Last week, PMA made a comprehensive contract offer designed to bring these talks to conclusion,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates in a statement. “The ILWU responded with demands they knew we could not meet, and continued slowdowns that will soon bring West Coast ports to gridlock. What they’re doing amounts to a strike with pay, and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike.”

The PMA's decision to suspend operations rather than pay the ILWU workers higher holiday rates for slowed productivity comes in light of the ILWU's demand for the right to fire any arbitrator out of accordance with their employer’s opinion, as well as the 200 slowdowns and work stoppages caused by the Union during the 2008-2014 contract period..

“The ILWU’s current slowdowns, now in their fourth month, show the very reason that we need a healthy arbitration system in place,” Gates said in a statement. “It is essential to be able to prevent the crippling slowdowns that are impacting workers and businesses across the nation.”

According to the release, weekend and holiday pay rates require a premium of 50 percent or more than the standard longshore wage rate, therefore longshore workers and clerks would be paid between $54 and $75 per hour and foremen would be paid between $77 and $92 per hour.

The four dates to see the suspension of vessel operations will be Thursday, February 12, Saturday, February 14, Sunday, February 15 and Monday, February 16.

The PMA made an offer last week for a comprehensive contract that would raise ILWU wages, maintain fully employer-paid healthcare and increase the ILWU pension. The contract guarantees that longshore workers are paid for 40 hours a week, even if work is not available, while the ILWU would also have control over the maintenance and repair of chassis.

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