Negotiators reached a tentative contract covering West Coast dockworkers on Friday evening, likely ending a protracted labor dispute that snarled international trade at seaports handling about $1 trillion worth of cargo annually.
The breakthrough came after nine months of negotiations that turned contentious in the fall, when dockworkers and their employers began blaming each other for problems getting imports to consumers and exports overseas.
The five-year deal between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association — representing shipping companies and port terminal operators — involves 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle. They handle about one-quarter of all U.S. international trade, much of it with Asia. Details were not being disclosed pending the ratification vote.
Industry experts predict it will take months for Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma — all among the 10 largest ports in the U.S. — to return to “normal” operations, according to JOC.com (an online industry publication).