Contentious negotiations continue on the West Coast between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).  Both sides continue to accuse each other of stalling negotiations at the ports.  Contract negotiations, which began on May 12, 2014, are now in their ninth month.

Despite the fact that federal mediators are now in San Francisco and have entered the process to help settle the contract dispute, the two sides continue to blame each other for slow ports and slower negotiations and no one appears to be  disputing that the situation at the West Coast ports is approaching gridlock.

“The ILWU has crippled what were fully productive terminals in the Pacific Northwest and Oakland, and exacerbated a difficult congestion issue at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by intentionally withholding dozens of essential skilled workers each shift for the past 10 weeks,” the PMA said.

“The PMA appears to be abusing public ports and putting the economy at risk in a self-serving attempt to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table, and create the appearance of a crisis in order to score points with politicians in Washington,” the ILWU responded.

Meanwhile, the National Chicken Council, along with 174 other organizations representing manufactures, farmers, and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, distributors, and transportation and logistics providers, sent a letter today to ILWU President Robert McEllrath and PMA Chairman and CEO James McKenna urging the two parties to work together to conclude the ongoing contract negotiations so that the congestion issues at key West Coast ports can be addressed.

“We fully respect the process of collective bargaining and we understand the importance of the key issues that for both management and labor are trying to resolve.  We believe that the two parties must come to a resolution of the issues that is satisfactory for all concerned.  We have been disappointed, however, by the exchanges that have occurred in the media and accusations by both sides of improper tactics,” the letter stated.

“With the help of Scot Beckenbaugh, deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, we ask for a renewed commitment to stay the course, complete the contract negotiations as soon as possible and work to resolve the current congestion issues without further interrupting the flow of commerce.”