Labor shortages at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continued on Friday, marking a second day of closures for the country at the busiest port of entry for maritime trade.
The shortage comes amid lengthy labor negotiations between the union representing West Coast dockworkers and the industry group representing shippers.
The two parties are negotiating new contracts with priority on wages and the role of automation.
The old contract with the International Union of Longshoremen and Warehousemen expired on July 1.
“ILWU’s largest local on the West Coast has taken concerted action to retain labor at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, resulting in widespread labor shortages,” according to a statement from the Pacific Maritime Association, the industry group representing shippers at the negotiating table.
“Most of the jobs on yesterday’s night shift were vacant, including all of the cargo handling equipment operator jobs needed to load and unload cargo. Workers who showed up were released because there was not a full complement of ILWU members to man the terminals.
Customs officers assigned to the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach recently seized 13,586 products of counterfeit designs from China which, if genuine, would have had an estimated retail value of more than $30 million, authorities announced Thursday.
International Longshore Warehouse Union Local 13 also suspended work Friday morning, effectively closing the Twin Ports, authorities said.
According to PMA, the actions of the workers’ union threaten to further accelerate the diversion of discretionary cargo to ports on the East and Gulf coasts.
ILWU officials did not immediately respond to calls or emails seeking comment.
Port of Los Angeles officials released a statement Friday regarding the temporary closures at the San Pedro Bay terminal, saying they were in communication with the ILWU and PMA, as well as federal, state and local officials, to support the return to normal operations in ports.
“Resuming cargo operations at America’s busiest port complex is critical to maintaining the confidence of our customers and supply chain stakeholders,” Port of Los Angeles officials said in a statement.