Employers Accuse Dockworkers of Stoppages, Slowdowns at West Coast Ports

Pacific Maritime Association.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Operations at multiple cargo terminals at various West Coast ports have been slowed or halted since June 2, with the organization that employs the dockworkers saying that an organized slowdown by the longshore union is the cause.

In a June 5 statement, the Pacific Maritime Association, which employs the laborers said that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union since last Friday has staged “concerted and disruptive work actions that have slowed operations at key marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and elsewhere on the West Coast, including the Ports of Oakland and Seattle.”

The PMA, which represents more than 70 multi-national ocean carriers and maritime companies, also stated that the union was also staging similar work actions that have impacted terminal operations at the Tacoma, Wash. and Hueneme, Calif. ports.

The employers have accused the union of using work stoppages, slowdowns and other “disruption tactics,” such as refusing to dispatch workers to marine terminals and “making unfounded health and safety claims.”

The accusations come as the two sides have been locked in talks for a new labor deal for well over a year. The previous contract expired June 30, 2022.

The ILWU, which represents more than 22,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports, issued a statement in response to the allegations saying that “any reports that negotiations have broken down are false,” without elaborating further.

On April 20, the two sides issued a joint statement signaling that certain “key issues” have been tentatively agreed upon by the two sides, without detailing with the issues were.

The statement came a week after comes after criticism from PMA over what they say has been a series of labor disruptions at terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The employers accused ILWU Local 13 of withholding labor and not following a contract provision that gives employers the right to stagger shifts during meal breaks so cargo flow would not be interrupted, moves that slowed operations at the nation’s busiest seaport complex.

Local 13, however, has said in a statement that it is not coordinating work stoppages, but that about 12,000 of its members took it upon themselves to express their displeasure with the employers’ position in labor negotiations.

By Mark Edward Nero