West Coast dockworkers will vote on whether to extend a five-year contract with shippers signed last year at their union meeting in August, according to Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.
The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) is set to expire in July of 2019.
Shippers want an extension of the contract to avoid slowdowns like the one that occurred last year when negotiations for the current contract broke down. The slowdown caused delayed shipment of soybeans and meat products to China and other Asias countries, Steenhoek pointed out. The union represents dockworkers at ports on the West Coast of the United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. The PMA represents shipping lines and port operators.
Past negotiations have involved allowing greater use of robotic terminals, eliminating redundant rekeying with electronic information and an overhaul of the arbitration system, according to Shipping News.