Ninety International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) delegates opened meetings in San Francisco, starting on Monday, to review the tentative agreement reached with the Pacific Maritime Association last month.  If those delegates recommend ratification, the tentative contract will be mailed to all ILWU members and they will vote on whether to approve the pact.

Delegates will vote whether to recommend rank-and-file approval or rejection of the five-year contract the union and the Pacific Maritime Association tentatively agreed upon February 20 after nine months of negotiations.

If caucus delegates recommend approval, the union leadership will hold meetings in April with each port’s membership to explain details of the tentative agreement. If caucus delegates vote against approval, the ILWU and PMA must return to the bargaining table.

Reopening negotiations would stoke new fears among cargo interests at a time when the West Coast ports are starting to recover from its worst congestion since 2002, when the ports were closed for 10 days by a lockout during contract negotiations.  The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are reporting that they have less than 10 vessels at anchor this week.  While reducing the number of vessels at anchor and improving the turn time of the vessels at berth is going well, there continue to be issues with trucks being able to get in and out of the terminals tip pick up and drop off containers.