West Coast dockworkers, shippers reach tentative agreement

Good news for marketers: The West Coast dock workers and The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) reached a tentative six-year contract agreement on Nov. 24. The agreement, if ratified, will end the labor dispute that closed the West Coast ports for 10 days earlier this season, delaying the movement of fall and holiday merchandise to retailers.

The 10,500 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are scheduled to vote on the contract Dec. 9. The ILWU is recommending members to accept the deal. “This landmark agreement is a victory for longshore workers and their families, and a win-win for business, labor, and our national economy,” James Spinosa, ILWU international president said in a statement.

The PMA, which represents the shipping companies, had locked out dockworkers at the 29 major Pacific ports for 10 days beginning in late September, causing President Bush to invoke the seldom-used Taft Hartley Act to open the docks Oct. 9 to avoid an economic crisis. The lockout began after shipping companies accused the union of an illegal work slowdown during contract negotiations.