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What We Do

The principal business of the PMA is to negotiate and administer maritime labor agreements with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). This includes a coast-wide contract covering roughly 14,200 longshore, clerk and foreman workers at 29 ports along the West Coast, from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. These ports drive nearly half of all maritime trade in the United States, including a majority of all imports from Asia. We work on behalf of 78 member companies who are among the world’s leading shipping lines and terminal operators.

A History of Innovation

The Pacific Maritime Association was founded in 1949 when break bulk cargo was transported in the belly of ships. Since then, PMA has negotiated several landmark labor agreements with the ILWU, including the Mechanization and Modernization Agreement of 1960 that paved the way for containerized cargo to reshape the industry. The metal cargo container is now the standard means of transport for many of the goods that fuel the U.S. and world economies.

More recently, in 2002 the PMA and ILWU reached a landmark agreement that ushered in an era of technology for the West Coast waterfront. Building on that framework, the parties agreed in 2008 to enable automation at port terminals. Notably, the size of the workforce has increased since 2002, as technology has enabled greater cargo volumes at West Coast ports. Looking ahead, innovation is expected to be an important driver of volume growth and workforce opportunity.