The International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance reached tentative agreement on a six-year coastwide master contract late Friday night, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said.
“The tentative agreement is subject to the ratification procedures of both parties and, as well, to agreements being achieved in a number of local union negotiations. Those local negotiations are ongoing and will continue without interruption to any port operation,” FMCS Director George H. Cohen said in a statement.
Cohen would not disclose details of the agreement, which averted the possibility of a Maine-to-Texas work stoppage. The current ILA-USMX contract had been set to expire at midnight Wednesday. It was originally due to expire Sept. 30 but was extended twice.
The contract agreement was announced at 11:10 p.m. Friday after four days of meetings in Newark, N.J., with federal mediators. The FMCS joined the negotiations in September after talks broke down on Aug. 22.
The coastwide master contract covers all container ports on the East and Gulf coasts. Supplemental local agreements cover work rules and other port-specific issues.
Negotiations on the local contract between the ILA and the New York Shipping Association were held this week in parallel with the master contract bargaining. Work rules in the ILA-NYSA contract have been among the most contentious issues in the negotiations.
Cohen said the tentative agreement “reflects the culmination of good faith negotiations in which the parties successfully accommodated strongly held competing positions because of their commitment to problem solving. Again, collective bargaining has proven its worth by avoiding a potential work stoppage that would have had a severe negative impact on the nation’s economy.
“On behalf of the FMCS, I want to especially convey my thanks to ILA President Harold Daggett and USMX Chairman and CEO James Capo for their leadership, patience, and persistence and to their respective hard-working negotiating committees. Finally, my colleagues Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, Director of Mediation Services Jack Sweeney, and Commissioner Pete Donatello provided invaluable assistance both to me and the parties throughout this lengthy process.”