Longshore Caucus delegates meet; proposed contract  extension goes to membership

ILWU International President Robert McEllrath addresses the Longshore caucus. At the dais with President McEllrath (left to right) are Coast Committeemen Cameron Williams, Frank Ponce De Leon and ILWU International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe.

Eighty-eight delegates elected by rank-and-file Longshore Division members at 29 West Coast ports met April 24-28 at the Coast Longshore Caucus in San Francisco to review a range of issues, including an employer-initiated proposal to extend the 20142019 collective bargaining agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

A majority of Longshore Caucus delegates voted on April 28 to refer the employer’s proposed extension to a ratification vote by the membership. The current contract expires on July 1, 2019.

“One of the ILWU’s Guiding Principles is that the rank-and-file members will make the best decision when they have the facts and an opportunity to decide for themselves, and that’s how this will be decided,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath.  The vote will occur on a schedule according to the union’s internal rules, which provide time for local members to discuss, debate and ask questions about any proposed agreement before voting.  McEllrath added, “More information will be sent to rank-and-file Longhore members in the coming weeks so everyone has the facts they need to make an informed decision.”

 At a previous Longshore Division Caucus held in August of 2016, delegates voted to explore the concept of a contract extension that was first proposed last spring by employers. Several meetings were then held between the Longshore Negotiating Committee and PMA employer representatives. “The rank-and-file membership always has the final say on any contract – including this non-precedent-setting proposed extension,” McEllrath said.

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