On this week’s audio report from the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF), USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng discusses the developments being made regarding important contractual negotiations between the West Coast port operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
In late 2014 and for much of 2015, U.S. meat exports were slowed by severe port congestion on the West Coast, which was the result of contentious, prolonged contract negotiations between port operators and the longshoremen’s union. The two sides eventually agreed to a master labor contract running through July 1, 2019, but the impasse inflicted severe damage on many sectors of the U.S. economy, including the U.S. meat industry.
West Coast port operators represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) submitted a formal request last week to the ILWU, intending to begin early negotiations on a contract extension beyond 2019. ILWU has not yet responded to the request, but Seng is encouraged by this development.
“An early contract extension would ease international buyers’ concerns about port congestion problems resurfacing in the near future and help solidify the U.S. meat industry’s reputation as a reliable supplier,” said Seng.
Meanwhile, the counterpart organizations on the East and Gulf Coasts, the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA), have begun early negotiations on a contract extension beyond the current September 2018 expiration date. Seng says it is paramount that these talks produce positive results, as East and Gulf Coast ports are critical for meat exporters serving the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and the region surrounding Russia.USMEF Audio Report, Port Labor Contracts