Recently PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna spoke on his views of what may be in store for the negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
Mr. McKenna views the relationship between the ILWU and PMA in a positive light, although he does recognize that there will be difficult conversations ahead.
“I think the pandemic and coming together and really working towards overcoming obstacles [from the pandemic] has really solidified our ability to work together,” he said. “I think as we head into negotiations, we are going to see that same type of attitude. There will be difficult issues to discuss…. hours, wages, working conditions that everyone discusses, and there will be other topics. I think we are focused on this contract like all the other contracts; it will have a start and a finish and whatever happens in the middle will be between the two sides.” He also sees the potential for the bargaining to go past July 1 as not a major issue. “Whether we go past July 1 or not is not the issue. It is just that we need to stay at the table and get an agreement without causing any further disruptions.”
ILWU President Willie Adams stated in April that the industries’ concern over the negotiations may be overblown. “There are adults on both sides of the table, it is called a process,” said Adams. “I believe in the American process of collective bargaining. That is a right as an American. We will get an agreement. It takes both sides, and right now we are getting ready. The other side, they are doing what they have to do. Sometime in May we are going to sit down, and we are going to get an agreement, and I wish, instead of people writing things and saying we are going to throw the baby out with the bathwater…they ought to be talking about the positive things out of Covid, all of the good things that have come out of this.”
The ILWU represents over 14,000 port workers in California, Oregon, and Washington. The PMA represents shipping lines and terminal operators at 29 West Coast ports. These ports support nearly $2 trillion of economic value in the U.S., for fiscal year 2021, which equates to roughly 9% of U.S. GDP.