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Tom’s Takes: Annual Voice of the Blue-Collar Worker Survey Recap and West Coast Port Update

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In honor of Labor Day Week, this issue of Tom’s Takes provides a summary of the 16th Annual Voice of the Blue Collar Worker survey and an update to the West Coast ports contract negotiations that were previously discussed earlier this summer.

2022 Blue-Collar Worker Survey

The 16th annual Voice of the Blue-Collar Worker (VBCW) survey was recently released and sheds light on what’s important to this vital demographic of U.S. workers regarding their employment experiences and requirements.

The survey included responses from over 19,000 respondents, with 48 percent of those coming from the Logistics/Warehousing industry, a balanced mix of respondents by gender (55 percent male and 43 percent female), with a large majority of the respondents having under five years of experience (64 percent). Key takeaways from the survey revealed the following:

  • Wage rate remains the top factor for job consideration by applicants
  • Workers want steady pay increases as part of their employment
  • Benefits, like 401k offerings and advancement opportunities, rank third in job retention considerations.

Tom’s Take: “Past surveys have shown that company culture was extremely important to job selection and retention. The 2022 survey results indicate that total compensation, combined with job security and schedule/shift considerations that work for their individual needs results in a dynamic trio of employment benefits that job seekers will gravitate to.”

West Coast Port Update

The International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union (IWLU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) are still in contract negotiations regarding pay, benefits and automation advancements for the 22,000+ dockworkers and 29 West Coast ports they both represent. A joint statement was released in late July stating the sides had reached a tentative agreement regarding health benefits, however no other agreements have been reported to be reached.

A dispute at the Port of Seattle over which union has the right to maintain cargo handling equipment at a terminal within the port has stalled the contract negotiations, with the IWLU insisting that its members maintain the equipment. The PMA has stated that it can’t award that work to the IWLU due to a 2020 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling citing that the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) has staffing jurisdiction over the terminal. The west coast dockworkers have continued to work without a contract since July 1.

Tom’s Take – “The Port of Seattle based issue over which union will oversee the maintenance of the cargo terminal equipment could be quickly resolved by the NLRB and the Biden Administration, if they wish to step in. If this issue, which has stalled the IWLU and PMA contract negotiation, leads to a walkout by the entire IWLU membership across all 29 west coast ports, the flow of Asian manufactured goods will be impacted throughout the supply chain. It will continue to negatively impact record U.S. inflation levels as we near the all-important holiday season for U.S. retailers, distributors and manufacturers.”

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