This is the second time this month the talks have been paused

This is the second time this month the talks have been paused

Talks concerning a new labour contract for US West Coast dockworkers have been paused for the second time this month.

In a statement, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said both parties will break from negotiations today (21 July) and tomorrow so the ILWU can convene its previously scheduled Longshore Division Caucus in San Francisco.

Talks are expected to resume on Wednesday.

No talks will also take place between 28 July and 1 August so the ILWU can resume unrelated contract negotiations in the Pacific Northwest, the statement added.

This is the second time this month that talks have been paused. Dockworkers and port operators took a 72-hour break earlier this month while the ILWU attended to an unrelated negotiation in the Pacific Northwest.  

The contract is negotiated between the operators of port terminals and shipping lines, represented by the PMA, and the dockworkers, represented by the ILWU, and the collective bargaining agreements date back to the 1930s. The previous six-year contract for nearly 20,000 dockworkers at 29 ports expired on 1 July. 

According to the Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, import volumes at major retail container ports are this month expected to reach their highest level in five years.

This is partly being driven by the West Coast contract situation as retailers have been bringing more merchandise into the country to avoid any disruptions, but is also being boosted by an improving economy.