Port Workers Reach

West Coast dockworkers and shipping companies agreed to a six-year contract following a 10-day shutdown of 29 ports last fall.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union issued a press release hailing the agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association, representing shippers and port employees, as a victory for its 10,500 members. Union President James Spinosa urged members to ratify the proposal in an early December vote because it upheld the union’s core principles.

“We worked in good faith with the PMA and succeeded in bringing new technology to our ports while achieving vital pension and economic security, strong health care benefits and safety protections for our workers and their families,” Spinosa said.

PMA released a one-sentence statement regarding the Nov. 23 agreement, along with a quote from President Bush applauding the agreement as “good for workers, for employers and it’s good for the American economy.”

The union said the contract secured pension protection, increased wages, better health care benefits and new safety provisions.

Shippers will be able to introduce technology, which had been a point of dispute with the union because it feared it would eliminate jobs.

The two sides had negotiated for a new contract since the old one expired July 1. The 10-day shutdown was estimated to cost the American economy $1 billion daily.

Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act, which reopened ports for 80 days while negotiations continued.