Dockworkers agreed to a three-year contract extension, covering staff at 29 West Coast ports used by traders to export meat to Asia and South America.
Ratified on Friday, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members signed a contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) that expires on 30 June 2022.
Earlier contract talks in 2014 and 2015 severely disrupted trade at the 29 ports along the US West Coast. Meat exporters, as well as retailers, manufacturers and other goods shippers were desperate to not see a repeat of this.
And Philip Seng, president of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), welcomed the contract extension to the thousands of West Coast dockworkers.
“USMEF is pleased that ILWU and PMA pursued this early contract extension, which is a positive development for US exporters and for the entire US economy.
“The severe congestion we saw in the West Coast ports in 2014 and 2015 created major logistical problems for US red meat exporters and prompted some international customers to seek alternative suppliers.
“The contract extension helps ensure that the United States will continue to live up to its reputation as a reliable red meat supplier. It is very good news for everyone in the supply chain – from farmers and ranchers to processors and traders – and for our customers in key Asian and Latin American markets.”
PMA president James McKenna called the contract extension “historic” and said it created “long-term certainty for West Coast ports and all stakeholders”.
The original contract had been due to expire in 2019 before 67% of ILWU members voted in favour of the extension, which will raise wages, maintain health benefits and increase pensions.