New contract proposal is offered to West Coast dockworkers

The employer group representing shipping lines has offered a new contract proposal to West Coast dockworkers.

Pacific Maritime Assn. President Jim McKenna on Wednesday urged the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to accept a five-year "all-in" contract proposal and end alleged slowdown tactics employers say have crippled West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.

McKenna said the already congested ports are roughly five to 10 days from a "meltdown." If ports become inoperable, employers would have no choice but to stop hiring workers, he said.

"We are at a critical time and this can't keep going forever," he said.

McKenna said employers offered a contract with fully paid healthcare and wages that would increase about 3% each year. The maximum pension would rise to $88,800 per year, McKenna said. Under the previous deal, dockworkers made between $25.71 and $41.48 an hour, depending on skill and experience. That's before overtime and extra pay for nighttime work.

A union spokesman said the two sides are "closer than ever and there's no reason [a new contract] can't be done right away." The union has said the port congestion stem from industry-wide changes such the rise of ever-larger container ships and a shortage of the trailers truckers use to haul goods form the ports.

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

Twitter: @khouriandrew

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