West Coast newspapers side with port employers in call for federal mediation

West Coast newspapers side with port employers in call for federal mediation

Two more U.S. West Coast newspapers have come out in support of a federal mediator to enter the stalled and increasingly acrimonious West Coast longshore negotiations, effectively siding with employers who have called for mediation.

The International Longshore and Warehouse has not agreed to mediation through a spokesman told the Seattle Times on Friday that the option is under consideration.

The editorials further ramp up public pressure on the union to agree to mediation as a way to resolve negotiations under way since May with no resolution after months of disruption on the docks that have led to delays losses for importers and exporters. They follow earlier editorials in December calling for mediation and criticizing the stalemate. The new editorials, in the Seattle Times and Long Beach Press Telegram, were balanced in not blaming one side or the other for the impasse.

In an editorial on Jan. 4, the Seattle Times said, “It’s time for a mediator to help forge an agreement to get ports functioning at full speed again,” citing the impact on the state’s potato and apple crops. “Instead of improving the movement of goods and making the ports more efficient, the stalemate is hurting the trade industry that is vital to Washington’s economy.”

The Long Beach Press Telegram said in an editorial that the ongoing impasse and its impact is “simply inexcusable. Enough is enough. It’s time to call in a federal mediator and resolve contract negotiations.”

The two sides, it said, “should go to the table in front of a federal mediator and argue their cases. Let an objective third party handle the sticky labor issues of pensions, work rules and jurisdiction.”

The New Year began with no breakthrough in sight. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers, moved forward last week with a plan to call out fewer dockworkers to work ships saying the marine terminal container yards are full due to what it says is the ILWU’s refusal to provide adequate labor to work the yards.

Comments

This is good news. Key is media pressure, thereby leading to public pressure. You know, a legislation that would require a mediator after x months of negotiation or other thresh holds such as vessel count outside ports would help. Any number of common sense applications would do as well.