Some marine terminals at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have been unable to operate continuously. Since the middle of last week, Local 13 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has stopped taking “staggered shifts” during lunch hours.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said that the action was causing extensive delays. “As a result, longshore workers at the Ports of LA and Long Beach are not working the terminals between 12 pm-1 pm and 10 pm-11 pm, creating significant delays,” PMA said in a statement. “Because the contract is not in place, there is no option for PMA to arbitrate the matter and require the union to man the terminals continuously without interruption.”

Neither the PMA nor ILWU have commented on the manning issue causing the job action. However, PMA’s statement noting that ILWU Local 13 had stopped observing staggered lunch hours, suggests the disruptions in Southern California are not being directed by ILWU’s international leadership.

ILWU International President Willie Adams said longshore workers in Los Angeles and Long Beach work daily according to terms agreed upon with the PMA. “Terminal operators, however, open and close their gates at will,” Adams said.

Meanwhile, the West Coast’s share of imports from Asia continues to decline as shippers divert discretionary cargo to the East and Gulf coasts. PIERS data shows the percentage of Asian imports landing on the West Coast in February slipped to 53.2%, from 54.5% in January and 60.4% last May when ILWU-PMA contract talks began.

ILWU and PMA negotiations are in their tenth month. Some issues, such as health benefits, have been resolved, but agreement on core issues such as automation, wages, and pension benefits still needs to be reached.


Source: Journal of Commerce