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West Coast Ports Bow To Union Greed Over Threats

After nine months of continued labor disputes, West Coast port owners hope their latest deal will end the conflict.

“Seeking to break the deadlock in stalled West Coast longshore negotiations, the Pacific Maritime Association has made an ‘all-in’ contract offer that would significantly increase compensation to members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union,” the Pacific Maritime Association declared in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The PMA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been unable to reach a new labor contract since talks began back in May. The situation escalated late last year when the two sides accused each other of port slowdowns and congestion. Even four weeks of federal mediation has been unable to solve the dispute.

“PMA’s offer is designed to bring contract negotiations to a close after nearly nine months, and follows three months of severe ILWU slowdowns that have crippled productivity at major West Coast ports,” PMA noted.

“Full-time ILWU workers already earn an average of $147,000 per year, and would see their wages rise roughly 3 percent per year, along with fully paid health care that costs employers $35,000 per worker per year,” PMA detailed. “The maximum ILWU pension would rise to $88,800 per year as part of the proposed five-year contract.”

PMA argues that the offer also meets the union’s two biggest demands. That being the maintenance of their Cadillac health benefits as well as jurisdiction over maintenance and repair of truck chassis.

Additionally, the health plan would feature no worker premiums, no co-pays and no deductibles for in-network benefits.

“Those two issues consumed months of contract talks, and in both cases PMA has offered significant concessions to the ILWU,” PMA added.

In a statement, ILWU President Robert McEllrath noted that they are incredibly close to reaching a deal, but constant threats from the PMA to close the ports is hindering progress.

“We’re this close,” McEllrath said in a statement. “We’ve dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled – and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved.”

“Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible,” McEllrath went onto say. If the PMA closes the ports, “the public will suffer and corporate greed will prevail.”

The union states that this is the second time in recent memory that the employers have threatened to close ports at the final stages of negotiations, a situation they hope to avoid. The union has not engaged in a port strike over the longshore contract since 1971.

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