At the behest of both parties, a federal mediator has been brought in to assist with brokering a deal between ILWU dockworkers and the employer Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) counterparts. Ongoing contract disputes between the sides have resulted in severe bottlenecks for both importers and exporters in the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Several Western Growers members have been affected by the work slowdowns, jeopardizing deliveries of fresh produce and other commodities.
To bolster the resolve of labor and employer negotiators, the co-chairs of the 90-member Congressional PORTS Caucus, Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX), sent a letter to the heads of the ILWU and the PMA encouraging them to quickly settle the contract negotiations with the federal mediator.
According to an LA Times article, federal mediators have been used several times in the past, including in 2002 when a West Coast contract dispute snarled port activity and wreaked havoc across the country.