The PMA has now asked federal authorities to step in

The PMA has now asked federal authorities to step in

Employers embroiled in a long-running dispute with workers at 29 US West Coast ports have called for federal mediation in a bid to resolve the impasse.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) had resisted calls for mediation, but has now asked federal authorities to step in, thanks to the ongoing impact of slowdowns by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU).

“After seven months of negotiations, we remain far apart on many issues,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates.

“At the same time, the union continues its slowdowns, walk-offs and other actions that are having impacts on shippers, truck drivers and other local workers – with no end in sight.

“It is clear that the parties need outside assistance to bridge the substantial gap between us.”

According to an industry survey by the Journal of Commerce, quoted by the PMA, 60% of shippers have already rerouted their 2015 cargoes away from the West Coast, with many saying that the diversions will be permanent.

Meanwhile, reduced productivity at Pacific Northwest ports has continued for more than a month and a half, with drop-offs of 30-40% now “the norm”, the PMA said.

Cargo movements have been particularly badly hit at Tacoma, Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles and Long Beach.