Dignitaries Urge PMA, ILWU to Conclude Negotiations; Disagreement Over Arbitrator Has Yet to be Resolved

According to City News Service, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will continue to try to bring port employers and dockworkers to an agreement, as ongoing contentious negotiations have slowed work at 29 West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.

President Barack Obama ordered Perez to intervene in talks in San Francisco this week, alongside the federal mediators who have been facilitating said talks since December 2014.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Perez Wednesday to meet with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Both sides are said to be in agreement on the major aspects of the contract, like healthcare and pay, however, a disagreement over arbitration still remains unresolved.

L.A. Mayoral spokesman Yusef Robb voiced that he wanted to meet in person with both parties to impress upon them “the stakes” of stalling trade at the ports, he said in a statement, “We want to make sure we get to a fair and responsible contract that communicates stability to our customers.”

“Meanwhile,” he continued, “as negotiations are ongoing, we want to make sure our ports are running as efficiently as possible so customers aren't seeing backups of ships on our shore and decide to take their business elsewhere.”

The Port of Long Beach released the numbers for January on Wednesday, which depict the lowered container volumes moving through the port in January, compared to the same time last year, caused by the congestion and worker slowdowns. POLA spokesman Phillip Sanfield told CNS that a slump in the Port of Los Angeles cargo volume is also expected.

Garcetti told KNX radio during a break in negotiations that, “The Port of L.A. is not only a local, but a national economic powerhouse, which is why I'm up here, to deal directly with both sides. We cannot wait any longer… we’re talking about 40 to 45 ships that can’t get into the docks - bring our shops what they need, get our workers on the docks.”

According to CNS, California’s two U.S. senators sent a joint letter today to parties involved in the labor dispute that has stifled operations at the ports. “Every day that goes by without a resolution only adds to the economic pain for the West Coast and the entire country,'' Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, wrote in the letter. “This cannot continue.”

The letter continues, “The consequences of failing to resolve this dispute immediately would be devastating to our economy and to the millions of people who work hard every day for agricultural producers, manufacturers and other businesses, both large and small, in California and around the world.”

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