LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A tentative agreement has been reached between dockworkers and ports after a nine months of negotiations.
Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer sent a letter Thursday to port managers and unions urging them to come to an agreement and stating if they did not it could be damaging to the American economy.
The nation’s top labor official, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez also said Thursday that if the two sides disputing over a new contract for dockworkers did not reach an agreement by Friday, they’ll have to leave California and negotiate in Washington.
Although the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are in agreement with key issues such as healthcare and wages, both parties continue to disagree on arbitration.
During the negotiations, dozens of container ships remain offshore, some of which have been waiting to enter the port for more than a week.
Perez negotiated for a five-year deal, union officials were quoted as saying.
The deal has to be ratified officially by both sides.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement regarding the agreement:
“The Port of L.A. is the nation’s number one port and so I’m extremely pleased that our work to achieve a tentative agreement has been realized. I want to thank the shippers and dockworkers for heeding our call to resolve their differences so we can move our economy forward. I want to especially thank Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez for his leadership and determination to bring the parties together and to put our economy back on track. We look forward to working with all parties and the Obama Administration to make our ports the best in the world and move our economy forward.”
The White House issued a statement Friday night saying, “This is great news for the parties involved in the negotiation and a huge relief for our economy – particularly the countless American workers, farmers, and businesses that have been affected by the dispute and those facing even greater disruption and costs with further delays.”
KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper reported from San Pedro where you could almost hear the sighs of relief — from both sides.
“We’re pleased with the contract, I think the employers are, too. It was a give and take and we both came out with a win-win agreement,” said ILWU union president Bob McEllrath.
While union members will have to vote on and ratify the contract, weekend work will resume in the interim.