West Coast ports reopen after labor dispute threatened closure

portThe ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reopened Monday following partial closures over the weekend spurred by the ongoing labor disagreements between port employers and unionized dockworkers.

The Pacific Maritime Association returned to full operation at 8 a.m. Monday. They had previously proposed an “all-in” contract Feb. 4, following nine months of talks with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The contract negotiations pertain to workers at 29 ports on the West Coast, all of which were under the threat of halting operation last week, PMA said.

Both sides have accused the other of taking measures to increase congestion or slow work as a means to gain leverage in the negotiations.

The PMA announced the work suspension Feb. 6, saying it had to quit providing “premium pay for diminished productivity,” accusing ILWU workers of slowing work. The ILWU countered by saying PMA had increased congestion to force the union’s hand. It also published aerial photos Monday to contest PMA’s assertion that the ports were jammed.

But despite this week’s reopening, a settlement between the two groups still has not been reached, and Union President Robert McEllrath said Feb. 9 said the two are in “talks to resolve the few remaining issues.”

A federal mediator joined talks Jan. 5 after both sides requested help negotiating the contract affecting 20,000 workers. The union temporarily extended their contract when it expired in July, but refused another extension in late fall.