There are finally signs of significant progress in the long-running West Coast port labor talks, reports The Wall Street Journal. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union dockworkers union (ILWU) said April 20 it had reached a tentative agreement with employers on “certain key issues,” and the WSJ Logistics Report’s Paul Berger writes that the deal concerns terms for automation at cargo terminals.
Details haven’t been disclosed, but automation has been a critical fault line in the negotiations to replace a multiyear contract that expired in 2022. The ILWU is against any expansion of existing automation, arguing it would cost jobs without helping efficiency, while shipping companies and terminal operators want to build on existing robotics operations.
Read more: Biden Envoy Says Automating Ports Doesn’t Have to Cost Jobs
An agreement on the issue would leave wages as the major dividing line.
A broader deal may still be far off, but any movement will ease shipper concerns that the talks aren’t going anywhere after nearly a year of negotiations.
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