West Coast Union Dockworkers Refuse to Unload Russian Cargo

Leadership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced on March 3 that ILWU members will no longer load or unload any cargo at any U.S. West Coast seaport due to the Russian invasion of neighboring country Ukraine.

“Effective immediately, ILWU dockworkers will not load or unload any Russian cargo coming into or going out of all 29 U.S. West Coast ports,” the union’s Coast Longshore Division announced.

“With this action in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we send a strong message that we unequivocally condemn the Russian invasion,” ILWU International President Willie Adams said. ““West Coast dockworkers are proud to do our part to join with those around the world who are bravely taking a stand and making sacrifices for the good of Ukraine.”

The ILWU Coast Longshore Division represents more than 20,000 men and women at over two dozen ports from Bellingham, Wash. to San Diego who load and unload cargo ships in all U.S. West Coast seaports.

The impact of the union’s action isn’t expected to be sizable because data show that only a small amount of Russian cargo is moved across West Coast docks.

According to Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles records, about 7,370 TEUs with Russian imports and exports reached the San Pedro Bay ports in 2021, which is less than half of 1% of all containerized cargo.

Regarding Russian bulk oil imports, the amount was estimated at between 2% to 3% of total Long Beach imports, according to data Port of Long Beach data, while combined container and bulk trade is less than half of 1% of all import-export volume with Russia at the Port of LA, according to the port.

On Tuesday, March 8, President Joe Biden announced a national ban on all U.S. imports of Russian oil and gas due to the ongoing conflict, which began when Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24.