Hundreds of longshore workers plan to take to the streets on January 22 to protest their employers’ decision to suspend vessel unloading night shifts at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are planning a community march down Harbor Boulevard in San Pedro to object to the Pacific Maritime Association’s move to not unload ships at night in order to move containers at congested terminal yards.
On Facebook, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said he plans to participate in the march. “The PMA’s action in further cutting night shifts at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is another step closer to a lockout,” Buscaino said. “It’s the wrong time to take the type of actions that will hurt the hard working residents that I represent. It will only serve to worsen the slowdown and congestion at the ports, disrupt the global supply chain, and result in irreparable damage to the reputation of our ports complex at a time when competition is peaking. I believe we are at a point where there may be no winners in the end.”
Since May, the ILWU and the PMA have been negotiating a new contract for the 20,000 West Coast dockworkers, including those at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Their last contract expired in July.
But a few months ago, talks devolved into accusations of slowdowns that further exacerbated ongoing congestion at the ports. A federal mediator recently stepped in to intervene in contract talks.
On Tuesday, PMA said it would suspend vessel unloading night shifts because the union refused to dispatch skilled workers to drive yard cranes for the last 10 weeks. The slowdown has caused them to redirect work to clearing terminals.
“All along, we’ve said we wanted to work,” said Adan Ortega, spokesman for ILWU Local 13. The cutbacks in night shifts have affected 1,000 workers, he said.
This comes at a time when the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, considered the nation’s busiest seaport complex handling 40 percent of U.S. imports, is experiencing epic congestion due to the arrival of bigger ships carrying more cargo, the lack of available chassis, which are trailers that hitch to trucks that are needed to haul containers, the labor talks and other issues.
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