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West Coast Ports Suspend Ship Loading and Unloading

February 12, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

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Photo taken Feb. 6,at the Port of Long Beach. Credit: ILWU
Photo taken Feb. 6,at the Port of Long Beach. Credit: ILWU

Shipping companies represented by the Pacific Maritime Association are suspending the loading and unloading of vessels during four of the next five days as labor unrest at West Coast Ports continues.

In a statement released Wednesday, the PMA said the move was due to ongoing and costly slowdowns by dockworkers represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union along with premium-pay weekend and holiday dates. Yard, gate and rail operations will continue at terminal operators’ discretion. In Southern California, terminal operators will expand daytime vessel operations on non-holiday weekdays.

The four dates affected by the suspension of vessel operations are Feb. 12, Lincoln’s Birthday; the weekend, covering Feb. 14 and Feb. 15; along with Feb. 16, Washington’s Birthday/Presidents’ Day. The move follows the suspension of vessel operations last weekend.

Weekend and holiday pay rates command a premium of at least 50% of the basic longshore wage rate, according to PMA. The ILWU has denied workers have been engaged in a work slowdown and that freight at the ports is not backed up as the PMA claims.

“Last week, PMA made a comprehensive contract offer designed to bring these talks to conclusion,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates. “The ILWU responded with demands they knew we could not meet, and continued slowdowns that will soon bring West Coast ports to gridlock. What they’re doing amounts to a strike with pay, and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike.”

Following negotiations that began last spring, the contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1. Despite nine months of ongoing talks, the lack of a contract and other operational issues has led to crisis-level congestion at the ports, including long wait times for truckers picking up or dropping off cargo containers. The delay in reaching a new agreement has lead to fears of a strike by longshoremen or a lockout of them by PMA members, either of which would likely shut down activity at West Coast ports.

PMA says while the ILWU has claimed that the parties are “this close,” to reaching a new contract agreement, it says they continue to push demands that would cripple the West Coast waterfront.

“The ILWU’s current slowdowns, now in their fourth month, show the very reason that we need a healthy arbitration system in place,” Gates said. “It is essential to be able to prevent the crippling slowdowns that are impacting workers and businesses across the nation.”

A federal mediator has been involved in the contract talks for about a month.

More than a dozen vessels are reportedly anchored off-shore at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This and other delays at West Coast ports has resulted in some freight being shifted to other facilities with the National Retail Federation saying such diversions have already been more than it expected.

Comments

  1. 1. Big Yellower [ February 12, 2015 @ 10:49AM ]

    Typical union morans . Being greedy has it's consequences . Wake up !! The container freighter companies are rerouting container freighters to south east, east coast ports for off/re load at their ports which tend to want the work...

  2. 2. J.R. [ February 12, 2015 @ 10:59AM ]

    it is spelled moron you moron

  3. 3. Bobb [ February 12, 2015 @ 11:06AM ]

    Just curious what the hourly wage is for a member of the union.

  4. 4. RicU [ February 12, 2015 @ 11:19AM ]

    Yellower,

    FIRST container ships burn fuel rapidly. Hence to save a barrel of fuel, the Exxon Valdez cut a corner and you know the rest.

    SECOND it's not cost efficient to pay huge tariffs to Panama plus a few thousand dollars in crew and fuel and operations costs per diem. Running to a new port is extremely expensive.

    THIRD once the So. Cal ports are handled, all involved will settle other areas. A slow down costs a port millions of USD a day to shippers, the port, the shipping companies, the states , municipalities, local economies and Federal government.

    It's cheaper to go slow and stay in line. The port is open.....for now.

  5. 5. DWA [ February 13, 2015 @ 06:02AM ]

    RicU. that seems a logical approach but I wonder if the prospect of not being able to get your ships unloaded will out weigh the expense of going to east coast. Go East young man.

  6. 6. jerry [ February 13, 2015 @ 08:11AM ]

    I wish the true story was told.This all about port workers medical coveage.Now with thier plans everything is free.Now under obama care you must pay 40%.Just take the time and read about it.

  7. 7. Sandra [ February 14, 2015 @ 08:12AM ]

    Why is our Government, in this day and age tolerating unions and their ridiculous demands? It is an embarrassment to this country and with the amount of people wanting to actually work it makes no sense to what purpose the unions actually serve. The PMA should not give in!

  8. 8. Edward [ February 14, 2015 @ 11:27AM ]

    This is typical union practice. What these greedy workers don't realize is that their greed is costing American workers and American truck drivers millions of dollars per day. I'd say fire them all and bring in scabs. They'll figure it out once they realize that they can't even get jobs at McDonald's. Unions are not meant for this. It's embarrassing and absurd in today's age. Someday when automation replaces them they'll regret it

  9. 9. Phil mulder [ February 15, 2015 @ 04:06PM ]

    Break the unions

  10. 10. jeff [ February 16, 2015 @ 07:07PM ]

    people just can’t seem to grasp the article. it is the pma who halted the unloading of the ships. imports were e up 5% this year. best year since 2008. working in good faith for 9 months says something about the dockworkers. sandra, edward phil, you just don’t retain much when you read do you ??

  11. 11. Stephen Berrar [ February 17, 2015 @ 08:54AM ]

    Where is a President like Ronald Regan who would fire all of those idiots and bring in the National Guard to run the Ports..In this day and age we should not stand for this kind of behavor. If those ships were sitting out there with something that Obama needed or the elites in Congress needed then you can bet something would happen

  12. 12. Steve [ February 18, 2015 @ 06:46AM ]

    It is Due time the Racketeering ILWU has a competitor just like the rest of the world !

 

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