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LINQ Supply Chain Solutions

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One Man's Perspective

So the ILWU and PMA reached a tentative 5 year agreement apparently after getting a pseudo-ultimatum from the Secretary of Labor to get the deal done or be forced to negotiate in Washington, DC. It's an interesting turn of events in a challenging situation. This is my perception of this negotiation process how this most likely played out.

March 2014, PMA President Jim McKenna advises the import community this year will be different regarding the ILWU contract renewal. Both sides have agreed to maintain business as usual in the ports while they work to get a new deal done.

July 2014, Shippers shift volume to the East coast in anticipation of a labor action since the contract has expired. PMA continues to advise no big deal mentality, that we're all working together.

August 2014, Space is a huge challenge for shipments moving to the East coast now and steamship lines begin pushing GRI's that stick for the first time in 5 years. Market rates begin to rise.

September 2014, PMA begins complaining of work slow downs along the coast. ILWU viemently denies the allegations, although they are dispatching fewer crane operators and gangs to work vessels.

November 2014, ILWU brings port productivity to a crawl with continued slowdowns. Mud-slinging campaigns in full effect for both sides. Focus shifts from getting the deal done to making each other look bad in the press. 

January 2015, Both sides request the intervention of the Federal Medication and Conciliation Service. This is the same group that seemed to help with the ILA negotiation, so shippers are optimistic.

February 2015, ILWU now has a new request to be able to fire mediators that rule against them. I'm guessing the intervention of the FMCS is not going as well as we'd hoped. The Scretary of Labor is sent to aid the negotiation and suddenly the deal is done. 

I wonder if Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez was confused when he got there? The PMA agreed to everything requested and yet the ILWU was still holding out. The one thing outstanding was this new need for ILWU to have the authority to fire mediators that rule against them. 

My next blog will be about how we even got to this point with longshoremen earning $160k/year on average with a pension plan better than most firemen and it's actually the carrier's fault.



Jacob Intrieri

Principal Consultant, LINQ


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