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If negotiating contracts is about sitting down and communicating, then the US west coast ports are in deep, deep trouble.

Last week, employers’ representative the Pacific Maritime Association, (PMA) said the unions were disrupting operations; this week, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) tells us the two sides had reached tentative agreements “on certain key issues”.

This turned out to be an agreement on health benefits, which was announced last July, nearly a year ago.

The Californian protagonists could not have left us with less understanding of the events unfolding in their discussions if they were an alien species hailing from Alpha Centurai.

It may be that those who live and work in Los Angeles and its environs are more aware than us poor souls that not only have to put up with British weather, but residing some 6,000 miles east, we have to guess at what’s happening.

Spare a thought for the poor souls who live 6,000 miles west of the port complex, whose only idea of whether their freight will be caught in a labour dispute quagmire will be through deciphering the cryptic communications of the PMA and ILWU.

Rarely does The Loadstar publish an untreated press release. But in this case we believe the sheer artistry of this non-communication warrants a full showing.


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced today that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) on certain key issues.

Talks are continuing on an ongoing basis until an agreement is reached.

The union and the employer previously announced on July 26, 2022 that they had reached a tentative agreement on terms for maintenance of health benefits.

The parties also issued a joint press release on February 23, 2023 announcing that they continue to negotiate and remain hopeful of reaching a deal soon.

The parties have agreed not to discuss the terms of the tentative agreements as negotiations continue.

The collective bargaining agreement that the ILWU and PMA are negotiating covers more than 22,000 longshore workers at 29 US west coast ports.

The previous agreement expired on July 1, 2022, and talks began on May 10, 2022. The ILWU and PMA meet regularly in San Francisco to continue negotiating the collective bargaining agreement and are committed to reaching an agreement.


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