Negotiating Maritime Labor Agreements and Supporting ILWU Workers

PMA negotiates labor agreements on behalf of its members, covering wages, employee benefits and conditions of employment for workers employed at longshore, marine clerk and walking boss/foreman jobs.

In 2017, the ILWU and PMA agreed to the first-ever extension, giving a significant boost to the West Coast waterfront as it continues to gain momentum as the leading North American maritime gateway for international trade. Negotiations for a new contract beginning in May 2022. For more information on negotiations click here.

Job Training

ILWU-PMA training facilities are located in each region along the West Coast, including Wilmington, CA; Oakland, CA; Tacoma, WA; and Portland, OR. Facilities host training sessions for longshore workers, clerks, and casuals in skills necessary to complete jobs in a productive, safe manner. Classes are multiple times a week in each region.

Workplace Safety

Workplace safety is a key consideration for the PMA. The PMA and its members take a collaborative approach to safety training and security at marine terminals and throughout the supply chain, leading accident rates to fall to all-time lows.

All workers receive comprehensive safety training as part of their initial orientation, and safety lessons are reinforced at job sites daily. PMA works closely with employers and workers to understand operational issues and to improve jobsite safety. The Joint Area Accident Prevention Committees and their subcommittee workgroups allow PMA and the ILWU to address workplace safety in each region on the West Coast.

Safety Bulletins are posted regularly by the PMA. Bulletins alert ILWU workers and member companies to important information regarding safety.

Unparalleled Wages & Benefits for West Coast Waterfront Workers

The PMA processes weekly payrolls for more than 15,500 ILWU members, who enjoy world-class wages. The average full-time registered worker earns more than $207,000 per year. For longshore registrants, the average is $194,350. Clerks are paid an average of $217,651 per year, and for foremen the average is $311,656.

Registered longshore workers who are unable to obtain full-time work are protected by the pay guarantee plan (PGP), which provides a guaranteed weekly income to industry registrants who meet certain eligibility criteria and are unable to obtain a 40-hour work week. This includes workers who are unable to obtain full-time work because of technology.

The industry Pension Plan has also seen major updates in recent years. Pensions for fully vested workers with maximum years of service rose to more than $95,000 annually in 2021.

For more information on wages and benefits, please see the 2021 PMA Annual Report.

ILWU Benefits Package

The ILWU benefits package includes employer paid health care for workers, retirees and their families with no premiums, no in-network deductibles and 100 percent coverage of basic hospital, medical and surgical benefits. Prescription drugs are covered for $1 per prescription; dental and vision care are provided to workers, retirees and their families at little or no cost.

Employers spend more than $2 million per day for health coverage for registrants, retirees and their dependents. Registrants and retirees generally have access to dental and vision benefits for themselves and their dependents at little or no cost, as well as employer-paid life insurance coverage.

The longshore, clerks’ and foremen’s agreements recognize 15 holidays, of which 13 are “paid holidays.” Registrants who are eligible to receive a paid holiday benefit package receive pay equivalent to eight hours of work at a basic rate whether or not they work on the holiday. All registrants who are paid for work on one of the 13 “paid holidays” receive wages for the hours worked at the overtime rate.

A basic one-week or two-week vacation is paid based on qualifying hours worked by each eligible registrant in the previous payroll year, with up to four additional weeks paid based on qualifying years of service in the industry. Vacation payments are made in February and each week is paid at 40 times the registrant’s applicable straight time or appropriate skilled straight time hourly rate.

Stabilizing Overall Costs
Over the past decade, benefit costs increased from approximately $93,200 per active registrant to approximately $102,000. For 2021, overall benefit costs increased by $21 million, to a total of nearly $1.6 billion.
Fully Funded Pension Plan
The industry pension plan – the ILWU-PMA Pension Plan – is world-class, and has seen major upgrades since the seminal technology agreement of 2002. Currently, the 2021 maximum yearly retirement benefit is $95,460. At the end of calendar year 2021, the Plan paid $36.6 million per month to 9,194 benefit recipients. As of 2019, the Pension Plan became fully funded. Non-contributory for the participants, the Plan is completely funded by employer contributions.
Healthcare Benefits
The healthcare plan – the ILWU-PMA Welfare Plan – is among the most generous in America, with no employee premiums and low out-of-pocket costs for out-of-network services. In the 2021 fiscal year the healthcare cost per ILWU registrant was $54,550.

ILWU-PMA Savings 401(k)

The ILWU-PMA Savings 401(k) Plan went into effect on June 30, 1991. The unique status PMA holds as a payroll agent for the industry on the West Coast provided the opportunity for the Parties to establish this as the first tax-qualified multi-employer 401(k) plan in the United States.

Employers make a contribution to the account of qualified Longshore, clerk and foreman registrants each year.  Registrants may elect to contribute as well, in increments of $1, up to $12 per eligible hour paid each payroll week, into their 401(k) accounts. Participants may also elect to defer any percentage, up to 90%, of their vacation paychecks into the 401(k) Plan.


PMA member companies make payments to fund collectively bargained fringe benefits and other industry obligations. These assessments are governed by a formula that seeks to ensure that both vessel operators and stevedores pay fairly into the fund, with some companies paying based on hours paid to workers and others based on tons or units of cargo handled.

The current assessment system has served the industry for decades, and has enabled PMA members to provide unparalleled benefits to ILWU workers. Current assessment rates may be found in the links below.

Supplemental Cargo Dues Assessment for Certain COVID Cleaning Costs will cease July 2021
2021/2022 Assessment Rates
2021/2022 Watchman’s, Passenger, & Tool Voucher Assessment Rates
2020/2021 Assessment Rates
2020/2021 Watchman’s, Passenger, & Tool Voucher Assessment Rates
Passenger Sector Assessment Notice – December 2019
2019/2020 Passenger Sector Assessment Rate
2019/2020 Assessment Rates
2019/2020 Watchman’s & Tool Voucher Assessment Rates

For more information on the history of assessments, please click here.

Daily Dispatch

PMA submits daily orders for waterfront labor at 29 ports and works in partnership with the ILWU to dispatch workers on day, afternoon, and night shifts.

Dispatch summaries are compiled by PMA in the Los Angeles/Long Beach, Seattle, Tacoma and Oakland areas, and are available to view HERE.

Statistical Data

PMA’s Strategic Business Analysis Unit provides a wealth of statistical data for use by the industry and its workforce. You can create a customizable report on hours, wages, tonnage, and workforce totals HERE.