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May 26, 2015 4:00 PM, EDT

ILWU Overwhemingly Approves 5-Year Contract for West Coast Dockworkers

West Coast longshore workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify a five-year labor contract with port terminal operators represented by the Pacific Maritime Association.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union members voted 82% in favor of approving the contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2014, and runs through July 1, 2019. That’s up from the previous contract, which was ratified with 75% worker approval.

“The negotiations for this contract were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said. “Membership unity and hard work by the negotiating committee made this fair outcome possible.”

The agreement provides for about 20,000 jobs at 29 West Coast ports.

PMA approved the contract last week. Stalled negotiations between the two sides led to backed-up cargo at West Coast ports from late last year through February, when a tentative agreement was reached.

ILWU said the contract “will maintain excellent health benefits, improve wages, pensions and job safety protections; limit outsourcing of jobs and provide an improved system for resolving job disputes.”