April 3 (Reuters) - A union caucus representing dockworkers at West Coast ports voted to recommend to its members a labor contract deal reached over months of negotiations that led to major disruptions to trans-Pacific trade, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Friday.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union reached a tentative five-year agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association, representing a group of shippers, on Feb. 20 with the help of a federal mediator and intervention by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.
“With their vote to recommend ratification of the contract between shippers and dockworkers at the West Coast ports, leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have taken an important step toward finalizing the agreement,” Perez said in a statement on Friday.
The deal is subject to ratification by the union rank-and-file.
During nine months of talks between dockworkers and shippers, tensions arose and played out in chronic cargo backups that increasingly slowed freight traffic at the ports.
As of this week, cargo traffic congestion was continuing to ease slowly. Port officials said it would take several more weeks for freight traffic to return to normal. (Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Sandra Maler)