PMA Says “Coordinated Action” by ILWU Shut Los Angeles, Long Beach Ports Ship’s crew

By Laila Kearney April 7 (Reuters) – A shortage of dockers on the West Coast has meant the US maritime trade’s busiest gateway largely shut down on Friday after months of tense labor negotiations between the union’s dockers and their employers.

According to the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents employers, a significant number of workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, including operators needed to load and unload cargo, did not show up for work as of Thursday night.

The PMA said the missing workers were the result of coordinated action by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to hold back workers while contract negotiations dragged on.

“The union’s action has effectively shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” the PMA said in a statement.

Instead, the ILWU said the slowdown was due to thousands of union workers attending a monthly membership meeting Thursday night and celebrating the Good Friday holiday the following day.

“Cargo operations continue as longshoremen continue to work in the ports,” ILWU Local 13, which represents union members in both the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, said in a statement.

Port of Long Beach operators decided to temporarily close four of the seaport’s six terminals when workers failed to show up Friday morning, port spokesman Lee Peterson said, adding that regular operations at the seaport are expected to resume on Saturday.

Port of Los Angeles officials have been communicating with the ILWU and PMA, as well as federal, state and local officials, to “support a return to normal operations,” said the group, which is managed by a City of Los Angeles entity.

Union workers at the ports have been working without a contract since the previous agreement expired on July 1, 2022, and the industrial action has forced major retailers to shift cargo to ports on the East and Gulf Coasts to avoid disruption.

The ILWU and PMA recently said they have reached a tentative agreement on key negotiating issues and are committed to expeditiously resolving the treaty matter while President Joe Biden’s administration continues to meet with the groups to facilitate an agreement.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Diane Craft)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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