West Coast Ports Resume Operations
Operations at West Coast ports began to operate again Saturday night after the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) reached a tentative agreement late Friday.
"After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” James McKenna, PMA president, and Bob McEllrath, ILWU president, said in a joint statement Friday. “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations."
Dockworkers are expected to ratify the new contract as the committee of 25 who represented the union in negations unanimously approved the deal, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who traveled to San Francisco last week to aid negotiations, told CNBC. That vote is expected to occur in April.
"I think that's a good start and I have all the confidence in the world that when the rank and file take a look at this, they will see that this is a good package for them and that they should move forward," he said.
The tentative contract prevented the shutdown of 29 ports, which span from Seattle to San Diego and are responsible for a quarter of U.S. international trade, according to Oregon Live. A stoppage could have cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day. Regardless, there is still a backlog of shipments that Jon Slangerup, CEO of Port of Long Beach, told CNBC he estimates will take about two months to clear.
"It's an amazing congestion problem," he said. "It is epic proportions from our perspective."
While the specifics of the deal have not been disclosed, the deal will keep workers, who have been without a contract since July, on the job for the next five years.
"It's a five-year agreement so it gives us some stability," Slangerup said. "Also, the fact of the matter is there were a number of issues addressed in this contract that won't be issues next time, so I'm hoping that we have some good solid progress and labor peace for the foreseeable future."
The White House also applauded the two sides coming together on a contract.
"This is great news for the parties involved in the negotiation and a huge relief for our economy—particularly the countless American workers, farmers and businesses that have been affected by the dispute and those facing even greater disruption and costs with further delays," the statement from the White House said. "… [President Barack Obama] calls on the parties to work together to clear out the backlogs and congestion in the West Coast ports as they finalize their agreement."
Related story: West Coast Ports Reopen as Contract Talks Continue