- Terelle Jerricks
For the past week, the ILWU International has repeatedly said that the two sides are closer to a deal than the PMA’s lockout actions suggest. A possible resolution in the early evening of Feb. 20 bears out that view. Sources close to the negotiations, who asked for anonymity for lack of authorization to speak on the matter, revealed at the end of the day Friday that the impasse in the contract negotiations is within hours of coming to a successful conclusion.
The issue that’s supposedly holding up negotiations was the union’s request to end the virtual life-time terms of the contract arbitrators–people that the PMA and the ILWU agree on to become referees in individual labor disputes between the union and the association. The union requested that the arbitrators change when the contract ends.
McEllrath previously noted that the request was made in light of cases where the impartiality of arbitrators was questioned.
“One of the remaining issues is the question of retaining arbitrators who have openly engaged in conduct that clearly compromises their impartiality, including the development of close and personal relationships that affect decision-making and the failure to disclose these particular relationships and conflicts of interest.
The PMA in its announcement said the union simply wanted to fire arbitrators that disagreed with the union.
Comparatively speaking, this issue seems to act as a mask for larger changes that are taking place in the goods movement industry.
Before the Presidents Day holiday weekend, the Obama Administration sent Labor Secretary Tom Perez to push the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association into agreement. When he arrived, Perez instituted a 48 hour media blackout following the long weekend. By Thursday night, it was announced that the two sides had 24 hours to come to a resolution or face going to Washington D.C.
It now appears that a resolution of the nine month long negotiations are at an end.