Dock Worker Slowdowns Affect Truckers On West Coast
July 13, 1999
Some independent truckers have been hit hard on the West Coast as labor shutdowns and slowdowns among dock workers cripple container ports.
Although the International Longshore and Warehouse Union continued to work past the July 1 expiration of its previous contract, ILWU work slowdowns at Los Angeles ports have caused cargo delays and long lines for truckers. A separate shutdown hit the Port of Oakland for two days last week. By late in the week, slowdowns had reached ports in Seattle and Tacoma, as well.
Hundreds of trucks have been lining up at terminal gates. Drivers have had to wait four or five hours to pick up loads at some ports. Paid by the trip, the owner-operators who pull the containers typically need three or four round trips a day to make a profit. With the slowdown, they're lucky to get two.
The situation is so desperate, some shippers last week even agreed to pay truckers $35 to $50 an hour for the wait at the terminals. These requests to pay stand-by time are usually turned down.
Contract negotiations resumed Friday, reports the Journal of Commerce. But longshoremen at major West Coast ports arrived late, refused to work extended hours or slowed container lifts by 20% to 30% per hour.
Meanwhile, the longshoreman's union is studying a proposed contract that would make them among the highest compensated union workers in America.