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On November 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California, container cranes stand idle at the Port of Los Angeles amid a drop in cargo.
Dockers at US West Coast ports have disrupted international trade for a fourth day, according to the Pacific Maritime Association.
Two of the six sea terminals in the Port of Long Beach remained closed during Monday’s day shift as “the operators of these terminals have made the decision to close due to operational requirements and reopen for the evening shift,” the port said in a statement.
The association (PMA) and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union represent the dockers who have been negotiating a new contract since May 10, 2022. The union, which represents 22,000 workers in 29 ports on the U.S. West Coast, said Friday it remains committed to negotiations and a good deal for its workers while talks continue. The union did not respond to the disruption to work.
The PMA says union leaders have been using disruptive tactics since Friday – slowing operations at West Coast ports and forcing ports to close shipping terminals.
“Over the weekend and to date, the ILWU has continued to conduct concerted and disruptive labor actions that have slowed operations at key maritime terminals in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as elsewhere on the West Coast, including the ports of Oakland and Seattle,” he said the PMA on Monday in a statement.
The Port of Los Angeles said one terminal, Fenix Marine, closed its doors for lunch Monday, but a spokesman could not provide details on why.
The Port of Oakland reported this morning that all terminals are open and operational. Terminal operators in the ports of Seattle and Tacoma did not respond to CNN requests for comment.
The West Coast ports, which once handled the bulk of US trade – particularly during the pandemic – have given some of the volume to the Gulf and East Coast ports. Shippers began to worry about whether West Coast ports could handle large volumes of cargo amid the chaos off the California coast during the pandemic, when ships and U.S. goods were stranded at sea for weeks. West Coast ports have declared that they are operational and open.
“The ILWU’s coastal work measures since June 2 are forcing retailers, manufacturers and other shippers to ship cargo away from the West Coast and into ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts instead. Much of the diverted cargo may never return to the West Coast,” the PMA said.
In the wake of news of disruptions, the National Retail Administration is urging the Biden administration to intervene in negotiations to resolve the labor dispute before the summer, which means the holiday shipping peak season.
“Thousands of retailers and other businesses depend on the smooth and efficient operations of ports to deliver goods to consumers every day,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation. “It is imperative that the parties return to the negotiating table. We ask the administration to mediate to ensure that the parties conclude a new contract quickly and without additional disruption.”
The ILWU says negotiations are continuing as the two sides have been almost a year since their contract expired on July 1, 2022.
“All reports that the negotiations have failed are false,” said Willie Adams, president of the ILWU, on Friday. “We’re getting there, but it’s important to understand that dockers on the West Coast have been keeping the economy afloat during the pandemic and have lost their lives in the process. We will not settle for an economic package that fails to recognize the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that have propelled the shipping industry to record profits.”