The Teamsters and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union rallied in mutual support last week as the ILWU’s contract at major West Coast ports prepared to expire today.
Teamsters President Jim Hoffa addressed a rally in Oakland, while similar rallies took place at the ports of Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Houston, Jacksonville, Long Beach, New Orleans, Newark, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Savannah, Seattle and Tacoma.
“The forces of labor are united as never before,” Hoffa said. The Teamsters have been trying to organize the owner-operators who haul intermodal containers in and out of the nation’s ports. Now they have teamed up with the ILWU as well as the East-Coast-based International Longshoreman's Assn., in a coalition to make U.S. ports “wall-to-wall union.”
The Teamsters have pledged their support in the ILWU’s negotiations for a new contract at West Coast ports. Hoffa says port truckers would honor and join any picket line set up by the longshoremen.
Even though the longshoremen’s contract expires today, a strike is extremely unlikely. Under union rules, a strike must be authorized by two-thirds of the membership through a mail ballot.
A strike or lockout would slow goods from Asia to a trickle and severely affect the U.S. economy.