Federal mediator to aid West Coast port negotiations

Mediator to help groups reach agreement after months of failed negotiations.

After months of failed negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the U.S. Federal Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS) officially announced today that it will work with both parties to reach an agreement (Feedstuffs, Nov. 17, 2014). Agriculture organizations and agribusinesses recently urged President Obama to involve a federal mediator after companies began reporting the dispute was causing significant monetary losses.

On Dec. 22, the FMCS reported that it had received a request from representatives of the PMA to provide mediation services in labor negotiations with the ILWU for a collective bargaining agreement covering all West Coast ports. In accordance with its statutory responsibilities, the FMCS had been closely monitoring these negotiations for some time and had stood ready to provide mediation services.

The PMA renewed its call for the assistance of federal mediation again on Dec. 29 in response to an ILWU press release, which reported only a few issues left to resolve. 

“In response to a joint request for assistance from the parties, collective bargaining between ILWU and PMA representatives will continue as soon as possible under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS),” stated Allison Beck, acting director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. "We are prepared and ready to render prompt assistance.”

Deputy director Scot Beckenbaugh, a senior FMCS mediator with extensive collective bargaining experience in this industry, has been assigned to help the parties bring these important negotiations to a mutually acceptable resolution. The FMCS said it was not releasing information regarding future meeting dates and locations.

The FMCS, created in 1947, is an independent U.S. government agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 10 district offices and 67 field offices, the agency provides mediation and conflict resolution services to industry, government agencies and communities.

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