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West Coast dockworkers, ports reach tentative labor deal

After months of tense negotiations which led to slowdowns and port disruptions, the union which represents thousands of West Coast dockworkers has reached a tentative deal with their employers on a new labor agreement.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union's Coast Longshore Division, and the Pacific Maritime Association — which represents dozens of terminal operators and ocean carriers — announced in a joint statement Wednesday night that a deal has been reached on a new six-year contract.

The two sides had been negotiating since May of 2022. Last week, several major ports — including the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland — experienced shutdowns due to work disruptions as talks dragged on.

A cargo shipping container is unloaded from a ship at the Port of Los Angeles on June 7, 2023. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su "played a key role" in helping facilitate the deal, the ILWU and the PMA said. Su also received praise from President Biden in a statement late Wednesday night, who thanked her for her using "her deep experience and judgement to keep the parties talking."

"Above all I congratulate the port workers, who have served heroically through the pandemic and the countless challenges it brought, and will finally get the pay, benefits, and quality of life they deserve," Mr. Biden said.

The details of the agreement were not immediately released. The deal must still be ratified by members of both groups.

The ILWU Coast Longshore Division represents more than 22,000 West Coast dockworkers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which combined make up the San Pedro port complex, is among the busiest such complexes in the world, handling about 29% of all imported or exported containers that come through the U.S. by water. 

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