The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in the U.S. announced that a tentative agreement has been reached between the U.S. Maritime Alliance, representing all major U.S. east coast ports, and the International Longshoreman’s Association regarding a comprehensive Master Agreement.

According to an FCMS statement: “The tentative agreement is subject to the ratification procedures of both parties as well as to agreements being achieved in a number of local union negotiations. These local negotiations are ongoing and will continue without any interruption to any port operation.”

Readers will recall that previous negotiations extended to the final existing contract deadline which was at the end of December 2012, and an extension of that past agreement to February 6 of this year was adopted by both parties. That development caused a huge sign of relieve among the global supply chain community. A labor strike would have impacted over 90 percent of containerized shipments destined for the U.S. eastern seaboard as well as 40 percent of all container cargo entering and exiting the U.S

Thus, it would appear that both parties have moved beyond the previous Master Agreement deadline and U.S. east coast port operations will continue with normal operations.

Supply Chain Matters had noted earlier that some significant stumbling blocks remained at some specific U.S. ports regarding local work practices, such as the ports of New York and New Jersey, but for now, it appears that a potential major work stoppage has been avoided.

Hopefully, this is a positive indication that global supply chain teams can take one huge disruption scenario finally off the table.

Bob Ferrari