May 21, 2015 9:30 AM, EDT

West Coast Port Operators Ratify Five-Year Contract With ILWU

The Pacific Maritime Association, whose members operate West Coast ports, voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new five-year contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The contract, if ratified by ILWU, is retroactive to July 1, 2014, and runs through June 30, 2019. It features an enhanced arbitration system that is designed to support waterfront stability, capacity growth and productivity, PMA said May 20.

A tentative five-year labor agreement was reached in February after protracted negotiations that resulted in slowed-down port operations late last year into the start of this year. Since then, West Coast ports said they have cleared the backlog of cargo.

The pact “is especially important given the increasingly competitive environment West Coast ports face now and into the future from a variety of factors, including the long-anticipated opening of the expanded Panama Canal,” PMA said.

“The West Coast ports are an economic engine for the United States, supporting millions of workers and trillions in economic impact,” PMA President Jim McKenna said.

“The disruptions that occurred during negotiations, and the inconvenience and hardship created by them, were regrettable. We look forward to building upon the incredible advantages West Coast ports offer and winning back the trust and confidence of the shipping community. This contract provides important tools to accomplish that.”