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Longshore workers disrupt West Coast port operations

Operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been interrupted since June 2 due to dockworkers staging “concerted and disruptive work actions,” according to the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the U.S. West Coast ports in contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

The union held stop-work meetings June 1, after which dockworkers either didn’t show up for work or staged individual work slowdowns over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported. The disruptions forced two containers to shut down at the Port of Long Beach and caused other problems at ports in Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle.

As of yesterday, all container terminals at Los Angeles were open and operating “with appropriate staffing,” the port said on Twitter. Meanwhile at Long Beach, two of the port’s six container terminals were shut down for the Monday day shift, but scheduled to reopen for the evening shift, the port tweeted.

“Operators of those terminals decided to close based on operational needs,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero in a prepared statement on Twitter.

Negotiations have been underway since May 10, 2022. The 22,000 dockworkers at 29 ports represented by ILWU have been working without a contract since July 1, 2022. PMA represents more than 70 multinational ocean carriers and maritime companies.

The parties are “getting there” with regard to coming to an agreement, said ILWU International President Willie Adams, according to a statement on Twitter.

“It’s important to understand that West Coast dockworkers kept the economy going during the pandemic and lost their lives doing so. We aren’t going to settle for an economic package that doesn’t recognize the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that lifted the shipping industry to record profits,” Adams said.

PMA member profits increased by $510 billion during the pandemic, ILWU officials said.

In April, dockworkers forced a 24-hour shutdown of all terminals at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, the  Times reported.

The National Retail Federation is calling for President Biden to help wrap up the negotiations, according to an NRF press release.

“As we enter the peak shipping season for the holidays, these additional disruptions will force retailers and other important shipping partners to continue to shift cargo away from the West Coast ports until a new labor contract is established,” said NRF Senior Vice President of Government Relations David French. “It is imperative that the parties return to the negotiating table. We urge the administration to mediate to ensure the parties quickly finalize a new contract without additional disruptions.”