In the never ending dispute over contract negotiations, the US West Coast is witnessing a new wave of strikes, leading to disruptions in cargo operations across major ports.
On 2 June, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing terminal operators, reported that dockworkers were engaged in “concerted and disruptive work actions” that severely impacted operations from Los Angeles and Long Beach to Seattle, with Oakland experiencing the most significant disruptions.
Today, the ILWU is staging concerted and disruptive work actions that have effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. (1/2)— Pacific Maritime Association (@WestCoastPorts) June 2, 2023
The labour talks between the PMA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have been ongoing for over a year.
One main point of contention appears to be the recognition of the dockworkers’ contributions during the pandemic, which led to record profits for the shipping industry.
ILWU International President, Willie Adams, emphasized the importance of acknowledging the workers’ efforts: “We aren’t going to settle for an economic package that doesn’t recognise the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce.”
The strikes have added to the challenges faced by West Coast ports, which have already seen a decline in container imports compared to previous years.
Multiple terminals have been affected by the recent work actions.
As reported by Bloomberg, Total Terminals International at the Port of Long Beach also announced the closure of operations on 5 June, extending the disruptions that have already impacted several key US West Coast port terminals.
The media company further reported that Fenix Marine Services at the Port of Los Angeles is set to open on 5 June morning, and the Oakland International Container Terminal says truck gates will open at 8.00 am.
TraPac in Los Angeles and Oakland also plan to open truck gates at 7.00 am.
The disruptions are also not limited to a single port, as the ILWU Local 13 chapter stated that members in Southern California were voicing their displeasure with the positions of ocean carriers and terminal operators.
The ILWU represents approximately 22,000 dockworkers, and negotiations with the PMA began in May of the previous year after the expiration of the previous contract on 1 July 2022.
While the ILWU claims that negotiations have not broken down, the stoppages and disruptions continue to cause uncertainty for port operations.
The Biden administration is facing pressure from retailers and importers to intervene and expedite the resolution of the labour contract negotiations.
West Coast ports have been particularly affected by industrial action, leading some importers to divert their shipments to other gateways to avoid potential disruptions.