The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach resumed operations on Saturday after a labor shortage closed the nation’s largest port complex for two days.
The shortage came 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 priorities on wages and the role of automation.
The old contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1.
Ports experienced shortages Thursday evening and part of Friday, but workers began returning to docks Friday afternoon.
A spokesperson for the Pacific Maritime Association, the industry group that represents shippers at the bargaining table, told City News Service on Saturday that “labour has been sent to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach from the second shift yesterday”.
Port of Los Angeles Police Sgt. Huang told CNS that the Port of Los Angeles appeared to be operating at full capacity on Saturday, and the Port of Long Beach dispatcher said the facility was also operating normally on Saturday.
The PMA said on Friday that ‘the 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 a widespread shortage of workers. workers.
“Most of the positions last night were vacant, including all of the cargo handling equipment operator positions needed to load and unload cargo. Workers who showed up were released as there was not a full complement of ILWU members to operate the terminals,” the PMA continued.
International Longshore Warehouse Union Local 13 also suspended work Friday morning, effectively closing the Twin Ports, authorities said.
But according to a statement from the ILWU, dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were still hard at work and remained committed to moving the nation’s cargo.
The union blamed the shortage of dockworkers on union members attending their monthly meeting and observing religious holidays.
“On the evening of Thursday, April 6, Local 13 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union held its monthly membership meeting, as is its contractual right,” the statement read.
At the meeting, the outgoing president, Ramón Ponce de León, was sworn in to the new president, Gary Herrera, in the presence of several thousand trade unionists.
“On Friday, union members observing religious holidays took the opportunity to celebrate with their families,” the ILWU statement said. “Freight operations continue as stevedores in ports stay on the job.”
However, the PMA has accused the union’s actions of threatening to further accelerate the diversion of discretionary cargo to ports on the East and Gulf coasts.
Port of Los Angeles officials released a statement Friday about 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 a return to normal port operations.
“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.