The US west coast has been hit by a wave of strike action, as contract talks between employers and staff stall.
The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents west coast terminal operators, said Friday that dockworkers were “staging concerted and disruptive work actions” that had stopped or severely disrupted operations stretching from terminals at southern California’s big container port complex at Los Angeles and Long Beach to Seattle with Oakland suffering the largest disruptions.
The latest work actions come as labor talks between the PMA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) stretch into their 13th month.
ILWU international president Willie Adams in a statement said talks are ongoing.
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“We aren’t going to settle for an economic package that doesn’t recognise the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that lifted the shipping industry to record profits,” when cargo surged during the early days of the pandemic, Adams said.
According to Descartes Datamyne, west coast ports processed 40% of US container imports in the first quarter this year, down from 45% in the same period in 2019.
Shippers’ decision to shift to the east coast has been thrown a curve ball in recent weeks with the news from the Panama Canal where severe drought – and the likely onset of the El Niño weather phenomenon – is seeing a series of draft restrictions being introduced.