The deal to replace a contract that expires September 30 still must be approved by rank-and-file members of the union, which represents dockworkers on the East and Gulf coasts, reports American Shipper.
'We have reached a tentative agreement on a six-year master contract that is beneficial to both sides,' said ILA president, Harold J Daggett and chairman of USMX, David F Adam in a joint statement. But they did not reveal any information about future pay increases or other aspects of the agreement.
Some 200 ILA wage-scale delegates unanimously approved the terms of the new agreement, following two days of master contract negotiations in Delray Beach, Florida.
'The agreement culminates months of tough negotiations between the ILA and USMX,' the statement said. 'Both sides hailed the agreement that was reached months ahead of the expiration of the current pact.'
The union and USMX said they are encouraging local ILA and management groups to finalise local agreements by July 10, prior to full membership ratification votes by the ILA rank-and-file members and USMX.
Negotiations on local issues at ports will now continue, and the union hopes those agreements can be reached prior to the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District Convention on July 16. ILA spokesman Jim McNamara said there has been significant progress in some ports, including in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Talks could be difficult in some ports. In Philadelphia, Wilmington, Delaware, and surrounding ports the ILA is pressing its effort to regain jobs that have been lost to non-ILA employers.
The National Retail Federation welcomed the agreement.
'This is good news,' said John Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. 'This agreement is very important for retailers who are now in the process of bringing in their holiday season merchandise and were worried that the current contract could have expired right in the middle of that season. Retailers can now count on receiving their merchandise without disruption to the supply chain.
'This ensures that we will have stability at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports over the next six years. That's a good, long time,' Mr Gold added.