Pacific Maritime Association makes 'all-in' offer in hopes of ending disputes with port workers

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The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) has offered a contract that would increase the wages of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) workers by roughly 3 percent, potentially placing a halt on the months-long negotiation disputes and ending West Coast port slowdowns.

This comes after PMA sent out a press release on Wednesday following a warning from employers who said they "could lock out West Coast dockworkers in as few as five days if the two sides do not reach a new contract," according to the Associated Press.

ILWU workers currently make an average of $147,000 per year, and the 3 percent increase would significantly bring up their wages, according to the press release. The new deal would bring up union pensions to $88,800 per year as a part of a five-year contract. 

The press release states that the contract would also add changes to their Cadillac health benefits, a key demand from the ILWU. 

"We believe this is a true goodwill gesture to get our west coast ports working again," PMA CEO James McKenna said in a teleconference Wednesday. "Given the generous offer, the continued work slowdowns by the ILWU and our earnest attempt over the last 9 months to bargain well beyond our comfort zone, the PMA has concluded that the latest offer is as far as we can go at this point." 

ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees told KPCC that only a hand full of issues now separate the two sides. He sounded optimistic about settling the disputes.

"Everything is moving in the right direction, and if folks knuckle down they can get this done right away," he said. "There is really no reason it couldn't be done tomorrow." 

He would not comment on the remaining issues keeping the deal from happening.

"They aren't issues that are overwhelming. They're issues that can be resolved through compromise," he said. "It's time to just get the job done and get the deal finished".

Merrilees said that both sides would be at the negotiation tables again on Thursday.

With contributions from Jennifer Velez

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