West Coast port battle drags on

New York — Home textiles manufacturers and suppliers continue to watch with bated breath as negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) drag on with no end in sight.

Although the ILWU's contract expired on July 1, dockworkers continue to report to work, unload ships, load trucks and stock warehouses, thanks to day-to-day and week-to-week agreements between the two entities, which continuously extend the old contract.

A contract offer was made to the PMA on July 16 that was immediately met with a counter-offer. The ILWU's offer would ostensibly save employers millions of dollars in cost savings while increasing efficiency and productivity. In return, the ILWU asked for jurisdiction over all remaining work and planning positions that have been outsourced to other work forces.

The PMA subsequently countered with an offer on July 21 that included cutbacks in benefits, pensions and arbitration process. This was offset by small wage and pension increases and a guarantee for clerks over the life of a five-year contract. The ILWU's vote soundly rejected the offer a few days later.

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