29 ports on the West Coast face shutdowns as labor dispute continues

Updated Feb 13, 2015
Port of Los AngelesPort of Los Angeles

Ports up and down the West Coast are in the midst of another partial shutdown for four days, despite pressure from retail advocates, a mounting backlog of cargo and intervention by a federal mediator.

The Pacific Maritime Association — the port management group — said it has halted work at 29 ports on the West Coast, starting Feb. 12 and continuing through the holiday weekend. Work will resume Tuesday, they said. PMA blamed the shutdown on the port workers union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, saying union workers had slowed work in an attempt to gain leverage in the negotiations.

The ILWU in recent days, however, has said PMA’s public push to present the ports as overly jammed is misstated.

The National Retail Federation says the labor disputes drive up costs of goods and threaten job growth.

“Enough is enough,” said NRF’s Jonathan Gold. “The escalating rhetoric, the threats, the dueling press releases and the inability to find common ground between the two sides are simply driving up the cost of products, jeopardizing American jobs and threatening the long-term viability of businesses large and small.”

The PMA suspended work last weekend too for an overnight period following an “all-in” pitch by management to the union. But the ILWU demanded more authority, said PMA spokesman Wade Gates.

On holidays and weekends, hourly wages for longshore workers and clerks is $54-$75 and $77-$92 for foreman, Gates said. The drop in productivity coupled with the congestion that became worse late last summer has made slowdowns the equivalent of “a strike with pay.”

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