Port workers return to work

Port workers return to work

Deal reached to end 8-day strike that is estimated to have cost local economy $8 billion

Negotiators representing union workers reached agreement with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last night, ending an 8-day strike that had crippled commerce into and out of America’s largest ports.

Workers from ILWU Local 63 Office Clerical Unit voted to return to work just hours after a federal mediator arrived. The Harbor Employers Assn., which represents longshoremen, had refused to cross the picket lines, halting much of the daily commerce that is conducted at the ports.  

In statement from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), president Sandy Kennedy struck a congratulatory tone to the parties involved.

“Retailers welcome the news that America’s two largest ports will resume operations and begin offloading the hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo that has been stranded offshore for a week.  Retailers will now turn their attention to the Gulf and East Coast ports where the December 29 deadline to reach an agreement is rapidly approaching,” said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. 

The National Retail Federation also praised the agreement.

“The retail community is pleased to see a settlement of the strike. We are happy both parties came together, with assistance from intermediaries, to reach a new contract agreement. The nation’s largest port facility is now re-opened and operating and will hopefully be able to quickly recover from the shutdown,” said Matthew Shay, president & CEO.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had asked the federal government for help resolving a strike that has idled most of the docks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for more than a week. The mayor said the strike affected about 20,000 truck drivers, retailers and others who are awaiting shipments.

The work stoppage was being staged by clerical workers track the progress of shipments into and out of the port complex. The union was concerned about outsourcing jobs. Shippers claimed they were not outsourcing jobs, but that the loss of workers was due to attrition.

Despite claims by both sides that significant progress had been made in the talks, there was no end in sight until late yesterday afternoon.

“Today, the ILWU voted to approve the contract,” Villaraigosa said, according to a Reuters report.

Officials said they expected union members to ratify the agreement, details of which had not been released as of this morning. Reuters reported that both Villaraigosa and ILWU officials said the sides had reached agreement on the outsourcing issue.

Tuesday morning Villaraigosa called for help from a federal mediator. The mayor said he also discussed the matter with California’s two senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and that he had placed a call to the White House, according to an NBC News report.

At its peak, the strike shut down 10 of the 14 container terminals at the ports and idled more than 10,000 workers, Reuters reported, costing an estimated $8 billion hit to the local economy.

The ports are expected to operate normally today.

TAGS: News
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