The ongoing dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers union and the Pacific Maritime Association continues to affect terminals at US West Coast ports, with reports of “no shows” and staff shortages. Although some terminals are advising truckers and shippers that they will be closed on Monday, both the union and port officials insist that operations continue. However, CNBC reports that Total Terminal International has cancelled appointments for ships at its terminals in Long Beach and Seattle, while union members have chosen not to work at the Port of Oakland since Friday morning, marking the fourth consecutive day of disruptions.
The dispute has not officially led to a strike, but a lack of workers has left terminals short-staffed and some have opted to close. The PMA has accused the union of “staging concerted and disruptive work actions” that have impacted terminals ranging from the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Hueneme in southern California, and moving northwards to Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle. The ILWU Local 13 has said that “cargo operations in the ports continue as longshore workers remain on the job”, but that it is fighting for respect from foreign-owned ocean carriers and terminal operators.
No public statements have been made by either the union or the employers’ association since they traded remarks on Friday, but union headquarters has refuted claims that the contract negotiations have broken down, saying “We are getting there” and “We aren’t going to settle for an economic package that doesn’t recognise the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that lifted the shipping industry to record profits”.
The Marine Exchange, which oversees the movement of vessels in and out of ports in southern California, has said that it was “a confusing day” on Friday, following media reports of terminals closing in the ports as well as at Hueneme and Oakland. Vessel traffic is still moving according to schedules, but should a backlog begin to build, the Exchange will revert to its voluntary queuing system, asking vessels to remain at least 20 miles from the coast “until they are reasonably certain they have a berthing assignment within three days”. Labor assignments would be made based on the vessel’s calculated date/time of arrival on the Master Queuing List for the ports, allocating labor as was done during the 2021-2022 backup.
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