Despite all of the problems at America’s western ports – greatly exacerbated by union work rules – the Biden White House encouraged a deal between shipping companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) at 29 West Coast ports. After 13 months of negotiations, some 22,000 union members will get a six-year deal with a 32 percent pay hike and concessions on automation that are guaranteed to keep America’s West Coast stuck in some Luddite past.
Full-time registered longshore workers earned an average of $197,514 in 2022, not including benefits. Full-time clerks earned an average of $220,042 and foremen averaged $306,291.
As Dominic Pino writes in National Review: “It would be better to speed the process up and start writing million-dollar checks to pay workers to quit and replace them with the technology we see in Singapore, Rotterdam, and other world-leading ports.”
In opposing automation, the unions are actually hurting the growth of jobs in America’s ports. The two partially automated terminals at Los Angeles/Long Beach have seen a growth in hours worked of 31% since 2015, more than twice the 14% rate at non-automated terminals.
Inflated union contracts like this – combined with antiquated work rules – make future supply chain disruptions more likely and more severe.