Negotiations between US west coast operators and port workers unions seem to be nearer to resolution after the parties reached agreement on some of the outstanding issues last week.

Talks have been ongoing for the renewal of the port terminal labour contracts since May last year, but have stopped for some time, triggering a National Labor Relations Board hearing and leading many to believe that strikes would follow at any time

However, the likelihood of industrial action seems to have reduced after the latest round of talks moved forward with some points agreed between port owners and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) unions.

The ILWU and PMA jointly stated “The parties have reached a tentative agreement on certain key issues, including health benefits, and remain committed to resolving remaining issues as expeditiously as possible.”

Despite what seems like a step forward, some observers are not convinced this will be resolved any time soon, believing that progress had not been made on the critical issue of automation.

As ever, Westbound will be monitoring developments.

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