Members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union voted and approved Friday a new contract that puts an end to tensions that erupted earlier this year and caused widespread supply chain disruption for manufacturers and retailers.
Union members ratified a five-year contract that expires in 2019 and is retroactive to July 1, 2014. The agreed-upon terms include boosts in worker pay and pensions along with an “enhanced arbitration system.”
The Pacific Maritime Association, representing 72 cargo carriers, terminal operators and dockworkers, approved the contract Wednesday.
The two sides had been at a standstill on various terms of the contract earlier in the year, which led to a showdown at the 29 ports up and down the West Coast. The slowdown caused widespread delays and lost sales for the country’s apparel and footwear manufacturers, retailers, automakers and a number of other industries that rely on the ports — particularly the two busiest, Los Angeles and Long Beach — to shuttle in goods made in Asia.
The disruption to business forced some retailers to seek alternative routes to bring their products into the country and has also led some companies, who have the supply chain infrastructure in place, to make more permanent changes to how they move product into the U.S. via the use of ports on the East and Gulf Coasts.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association and its president and chief executive officer Juanita Duggan hailed the ILWU decision Friday.
“The labor dispute that began last September led to delays, slow-downs and brought the 29 ports along the West Coast to a near-halt,” Duggan said in a statement. “For the apparel and footwear industry, the port disruption was our number one trade barrier, and something we very strongly feel cannot happen again.”