The local Southern California International Longshore Workers’ Union has filed a complaint a statement today criticizes the actions of foreign shipping companies and sea terminal operators during the ongoing negotiations for a new collective agreement for unionized workers in west coast ports.
The sharply worded statement comes about a month and a half after the ILWU expressed optimism about an interim final agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipowners and terminal operators in the negotiations. However, the PMA claimed at the time that several key issues remained unresolved.
ILWU Local 13 represents approximately 12,000 workers in Southern California. In today’s statement, she criticized foreign shipping companies and terminal operators for flouting workers’ basic health and safety demands. The exact details were not elaborated on in the statement.
ILWU Local 13 recalled the gains made by shipping companies and terminal operators during the pandemic “at a high personal cost to these longshore workers and their families,” noting that at least 43 ILWU members lost their lives to COVID-19.
“Despite this tremendous gain and the record-breaking volumes of cargo workers moved through Southern California’s ports during this period, shipping lines and terminal operators have generally turned their noses to workers, suggesting that doing so poses health risks and loss of life.” People who suffered during the pandemic didn’t matter to them and they were expendable in the name of profit. The demands of the workforce are not far-fetched; They represent a fundamental demand that will ensure the workforce is treated with the dignity and respect they have fought so hard to achieve.”
The agreement negotiated by the ILWU and PMA covers more than 22,000 longshoremen in 29 ports on the US West Coast. Talks began on May 10, 2022 after the previous agreement expired on July 1, 2022. The ILWU and PMA meet regularly in San Francisco to continue negotiations and both remain committed to reaching an agreement.
In today’s statement, the ILWU said its rank and file members in Southern California are committed to “voicing their displeasure with shipping companies and terminal operators,” but dockers remain on duty and cargo operations in the ports continue.