There’s big news in the maritime shipping world: a tentative agreement has been reached between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) as of last week.
The agreement, should it hold, ends a two-week port worker strike and associated port slowdowns.
In a joint statement, the heads of the PMA and ILWU, James McKenna and Willie Adams, respectively, announced the deal saying:
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating. We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast Ports.”
The new agreement will be in force for six years and will cover 29 different U.S. West Coast ports.
After several days of optimism on the new deal, operations at U.S. West Coast ports are returning to normal.
There were capacity issues and processing delays at U.S. West Coast ports. Those are now resolving and operations are slowly returning to normal. Amidst the strike, even among workers who did not take part in the strike, productivity was lower, which hurt port operations.
The strike rekindled fears of 2021-2022 supply chain disruptions and attracted the attention of national political leaders including U.S. Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su, who inserted herself into negotiations and helped bring about a deal.
What might have happened if a deal was not reached when it was?
Without a deal having been reached, it was likely that more port shutdowns would take place, further disrupting the supply chain and clouding the U.S. economic picture.
Since U.S. West Coast ports handle a very large percentage of the country’s imports, any disruption to those ports has a huge effect on trade and the supply chain. The effects would have felt not only in the U.S., but around the world. After all, foreign goods, such as those from China, would have stayed stranded with fewer ports of entry to accept the goods.
Additional details of the agreement will be made available when announced by the relevant parties.