Yesterday, December 22nd, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) called for federal mediation in its negotiations with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU.) Citing lack of consensus on many issues, and voicing frustration with union activities, PMA spokesman Wade Gates stated the following in yesterday’s press release: “After seven months of negotiations, we remain far apart on many issues. At the same time, the union continues its slowdowns, walk-offs and other actions that are having impacts on shippers, truck drivers and other local workers – with no end in sight. It is clear that the parties need outside assistance to bridge the substantial gap between us.”
In response to this request, the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (FMCS) issued a press release stating the following, “the FMCS has been closely monitoring these negotiations for some time and has stood ready to provide mediation services at a moment’s notice. In light of PMA’s request, and consistent with the voluntary nature of the mediation process, FMCS mediators will promptly reach out to the parties to determine whether and when mediation assistance would be most valuable.” The FMCS also indicated that it would be issuing no further statements on the matter.
The ILWU has yet to indicate whether it will also ask federal mediators to help in forging a new contract. We will continue to monitor the situation and update you as events progress.
What Shippers Can Do to Help Minimize the Impact to Their Supply Chains:
- Continue to communicate with overseas partners
- Prioritize shipments
- Stretch transportation planning lead time where possible
- Consider alternate port routings
- Consider additional material supply at distribution centers, warehouses and/or production facilities
- Work closely with container-drayage operators to deliver & pick up containers from marine and rail terminals at off-peak hours
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