West Coast seaports mostly close amid contract dispute
According to employers at West Coast shipping ports, they were delaying operations for many days and it was a step taken in a controversial labor dispute with the union representing dockworkers.
As per the Pacific Maritime Association, on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, it will stop loading and unloading at the ports, together with busy operations at Long Beach and Los Angeles.
According to the management association, it was taking the action as it does not want to pay higher premium wages for weekend and holiday operations. It said that workers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, are conducting a work slowdown.
The labor dispute influences 29 West Coast ports, from Tacoma, Washington, to Long Beach, California, which handle about $1 trillion in goods yearly.
"Last week, PMA made a comprehensive contract offer designed to bring these talks to conclusion. The ILWU responded with demands they knew we could not meet, and continued slowdowns that will soon bring West Coast ports to gridlock”, said spokesman Wade Gates.
The union refused to take any strike action and put the blame on employers, who according to it have not came forward for finding the middle grounds since last Friday.
ILWU President Robert McEllrath said that this is an attempt by the employers to pressurize their members economically and to get leverage in contract talks. McEllrath added that the union is ready to negotiate, as they have been for the past several days.
As per the ports management, its agreement offer would increase union wages 14% over five years, together with work guarantees and benefits. As per the union, longshore workers get good benefits and hourly wages however are limited in the hours of work available.
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