How the Ag Industry Benefits from the West Coast Dock Workers’ New Labor Contract

A long-term labor contract is now officially in place for dock workers at ports along the West Coast. This new labor agreement will ultimately benefit U.S. farmers and the ag industry because it will help minimize the supply-chain disruptions in shipping ag exports to China, Japan, South Korea, and other countries that buy products grown and produced by U.S. farmers.

“This is fabulous news for us, our members, and specifically for exporters,” says Dan Halstrom, President and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, talking about the new six-year contract that was ratified by Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

More than 22,000 dock workers at 29 ports from California to Washington State voted in favor of the agreement that now runs through 2028.

Halstrom says this is an important development for the U.S. meat industry.

“We will not run the risk of any kind of disruption from a labor standpoint, and an overwhelming majority of union members voted in favor of it. So, we knew this was coming but that is really good news, and we can move forward, especially with our high-value chilled business that primarily goes off the West Coast,” says Halstrom.

The uncertainty that surrounded the West Coast labor situation had caused a recent shift in cargo to port along the East and Gulf Coasts. Halstrom says he’s hoping to see this trend reverse now that the labor situation has stabilized.

“Over the last year in particular, the West Coast has been losing discretionary business, on the import side especially, losing to the Gulf and East Coasts,” according to Halstrom. “Part of the reason for that was the uncertainty around the whole contract situation on the West Coast. So hopefully, Long Beach and Oakland and these key export ports for us can regain some of that business and have a larger array of options from a schedule standpoint into some of our key markets like Japan and Korea.”

A separate union represents longshoremen on the East and Gulf Coasts. That contract is set to expire in the fall of next year.



Michigan Ag Today
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