West Coast docks busy; contract ratification vote still to come

West Coast docks busy; contract ratification vote still to come

Longshore workers on the West Coast will be briefed this week on their new tentative five-year contract, but work has already resumed at the 29 ports where the International Longshore & Warehouse Union represents the work force.

There was one substantial hiccup Sunday when workers at the Port of Oakland, which handles 10% of cargo on the West Coast, slowed work by taking their breaks all at the same time. Terminal management sent the workers home and sought an immediate ruling by the arbitrator for that region, who agreed the action was illegal. Vessel work at Oakland on Monday morning appeared to have returned to normal.

There and all along the West Coast, terminals requested and got extra labor to begin clearing out a backlog of freight. That started with the Saturday night shift, following a contract agreement late Friday.

The ILWU hasn't announced a ratification vote yet but word is expected on this sometime this week. If and when the contract is approved, the union is then expected to turn its attention to contract talks in Hawaii.

Details of the contract were kept facedown until rank-and-file could be briefed on it, but the agreement was expected to include the Pacific Maritime Association's final offer of 3% annual raises and continued employer payment of 100% of the health benefits plan, generally regarded to be one of the best in the country. Health coverage is even more important to longshore workers than in other industries because the work can be dangerous and is done outdoors.

Hawaii, which remained fairly well-supplied during contract talks by tacit agreement of labor and management, gets a lot more cargo this week.

The Matson ship Maui, loaded in Oakland last week, arrived Sunday, as did the Matson ship Maunalei from Long Beach. The Matsonia is scheduled to arrive Tuesday - it would have been loaded at Oakland Friday when work was still being done at full-speed - and the Mahimahi is due at Sand Island Wednesday.

The Horizon Pacific should have sailed from Oakland on Friday, and the Horizon Reliance should have sailed from Los Angeles over the weekend, and should arrive here Wednesday or Thursday.

Pasha's ship Jean Anne should have sailed from San Diego on Wednesday and should arrive in Honolulu today.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.