Union, terminal operators reach tentative agreement, ending retail group’s ‘nightmare’

After months of strife, longshoreman and port terminal operators have agreed on a contract.

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After months of strife, longshoreman and port terminal operators have agreed on a contract.

The Associated Press reports that the ports “went from lagging to bustling over the weekend” after an agreement was struck between workers and management:

More than 1,000 dockworker assignments were filled Sunday at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, more than double the number of recent Sundays. More than 2,000 were expected to be filled on Monday, port officials said. At more than two dozen other West Coast ports from Washington to California work was mostly back to normal, with additional orders for labor especially at the larger ports to make up for a backlog caused by a monthlong contract dispute.

A tentative agreement was reached late Friday. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports with a statement from the union:

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” said Pacific Maritime Association President James McKenna and International Longshore and Warehouse Union President Bob McEllrath in a joint statement.

Even with a signed contract, it will take months for the ports and trade businesses to clean up the mess left in the wake of rocky negotiations.

Even with the agreement in place, Portland’s biggest container ship customer — Hanjin — insisted it will not return to the port — OregonLive.com reports.

For now, Hanjin will continue to ship in and out of Portland until March 9, after which point the port will be left with Hapag-Lloyd and Westwood Shipping as the primary carriers to Terminal 6.

“We’re still concerned for local importers and exporters and we’ll continue working hard to recruit new service for Portland,” [Port of Portland spokesman Steve] Johnson said.

The labor deal is good for five years and is awaiting approval by rank-and-file members, according to a report by the Associated Press.

In the wake of the deal ending much consternation for the group, the National Retail Federation rejoiced.

OregonLive.com published its statement:

“We congratulate the ILWU and PMA for finally coming to agreement on a new labor contract,” the federation’s CEO Matthew Shay said in the statement. “It is now time for the parties to quickly ratify the deal and immediately focus on clearing out the crisis-level congestion and backlog at the ports.”

Shay went on to thank U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, who last weekend traveled to California to give negotiators a nudge. He then gave them until Friday to find an end to the long-running dispute. Agricultural, manufacturing, retailing and transportation industries all suffered through congestion, slowdowns and work stoppages during the nine months of negotiations, he said.

To see how bad the strife got in February, read 10 quotes we believe tell the story of Hanjin leaving Portland and the wide-reaching effects its had on business in the state.