Tentative agreement reached on new West Coast ports labor contract

Written by Nick Blenkey
Julie Su helped broker progress on West Coast ports labor contract

Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su: “Collective bargaining — though sometimes difficult — works.”

Noting the role played by Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su, the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union yesterday announced a tentative agreement on a new six-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports.

The parties say that they will not be releasing details of the agreement at this time and that it is subject to ratification by both parties.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that recognizes the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce in keeping our ports operating,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Willie Adams in a joint statement. “We are also pleased to turn our full attention back to the operation of the West Coast ports.”

Acting Secretary of Labor Su released the following statement:

“This afternoon, the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association reached a tentative agreement covering 22,000 workers and 29 West Coast ports, demonstrating once again that collective bargaining — though sometimes difficult — works.

“Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of the leadership of the ILWU and the PMA, the tentative agreement delivers important stability for workers, for employers and for our country’s supply chain. This important milestone is welcome news to all, and on behalf of President Biden, we are pleased to congratulate both parties on what they have achieved.”

Su is well known to both sides in the West Coast ports dispute, prior to joining the U.S. Department of Labor, she served as the secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and, prior to that, served as California labor commissioner from 2011 through 2018.

She has been named one of the 50 most noteworthy women alumni of Harvard Law School and one of the 100 most influential people in Los Angeles in Los Angeles Magazine.


In a White House statement, President Biden said:

“As I have always said, collective bargaining works, and I congratulate both parties at the ports for reaching an agreement. I want to thank Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su who used her deep experience and judgment to keep the parties talking, working with them to reach an agreement after a long and sometimes acrimonious negotiation. 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.

“Julie Su has proven herself time and time again, both as Deputy Secretary working closely with Secretary Marty Walsh – and now as a leader who helped assure that our supply chains remain strong for America’s businesses, farmers, and working families.”


The tentative agreement came after the parties had been in negotiations since the labor contract initially expired in July 2022. and against a backdrop of rising sporadic disruptions at some terminals. The National Retail Federation (NRF) had warned that additional disruptions would force retailers and other important shipping partners to continue to shift cargo away from the West Coast ports.

“The West Coast ports are a critical artery for retailers and other businesses into the U.S. market,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in welcoming yesterday’s news. “We urge the parties to quickly ratify the tentative agreement to bring certainty back to the West Coast ports. It is essential to begin the negotiation process early for the next labor contract and avoid a future lapse in continuity.”

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