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Employers Say Union is Disrupting Work at Southern California Seaports

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 13, 2023

© angeldibilio / Adobe Stock

© angeldibilio / Adobe Stock

The Pacific Maritime Association on Thursday said the largest longshore union local on the West Coast disrupted work at the nation's busiest seaport complex for the second week in a row, as labor talks covering 22,000 dockworkers from California to Washington state approach the one-year mark.

Frustration is growing over the lack of resolution in the talks, which started in May. Major shippers—including suppliers to retailers including Walmart Inc and Home Depot Inc—have been diverting cargo from the West Coast to rival seaports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico to avoid potential work stoppages.

The PMA, which represents West Coast port employers, said the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13 disrupted terminal operations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by refusing to allow it to participate in the jointly administered labor dispatch process.

"These actions have slowed the start of operations throughout the Southern California port complex," PMA said.

The ILWU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The contract between PMA and the ILWU expired on July 1, 2022.

Last month, the National Retail Federation (NRF) led a group of more than 200 trade associations in calling on President Joe Biden to help the negotiating parties quickly reach a new agreement.

PMA last week said ILWU Local 13 withheld labor that shut down terminals on the evening of April 6 and the day shift on April 7, which was observed as a Good Friday holiday at some businesses.

The disruption coincided with a routine monthly "stop work" meeting on April 6, Los Angeles Port Director Gene Seroka told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday.

"The collective bargaining agreement between the union and the employers guarantees these monthly meetings, which are dedicated to addressing the union's proceedings," Seroka said.

While the impact from last week's actions was relatively minor, Seroka said it is crucial for the two sides to reach a deal to remove uncertainty and regain the confidence of retailers and other shippers using the trade gateway.

(Reuters - Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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