West Coast Dockworkers Ratify Contract

Dockworkers at ports along the West Coast have ratified a new contract, securing a sweeping agreement set to last six years and expected to ease tensions after cargo shipments were diverted to other regions.

The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which operates the terminals, covers 22,000 dockworkers at 29 ports from Los Angeles to Seattle.

The contract was approved by 75 percent of members who voted, the union said late Thursday. Details of the agreement were not released publicly, and the union declined to comment. Unionized workers at the ports have average salaries in the low six figures.

The maritime association did not respond to a request for comment.

The two sides announced in June that they had reached a tentative agreement after a year of negotiations that prompted intervention from the Biden administration and coincided with a decline in the volume of cargo at several major ports along the West Coast.

During the negotiation period, as workers staged a series of slowdowns, including at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, some shipping companies diverted freight to ports along the Gulf and East Coasts and then never returned to their old routes.

And the movement of goods continued to lag into the summer.

At the Port of Los Angeles, the amount of cargo imported in July was down 25 percent from a year earlier. But at Port Houston, where some companies rerouted cargo, officials reported its best July on record in processing cargo.

Geraldine Knatz, a former head of the Port of Los Angeles and now professor of the practice of policy and engineering at the University of Southern California, said she expected the contract’s ratification to give some shippers the level of comfort they needed to return to their old routes.

“Everyone is expecting we will see an increase in volume,” she said of cargo handled on the West Coast.

Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, said the West Coast ports played a critical role in the vitality of the business community nationwide.

“Now that an agreement has been ratified by all parties, the millions of businesses and employees who rely on their operations can be assured that long-term stability will remain at the West Coast ports,” Mr. Shay said.

Santul Nerkar contributed reporting.

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