West Coast dockworkers negotiations have hit a roadblock as a failure to stagger lunch breaks has halted operations at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
In a recent statement emailed to Bloomberg, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) has accused the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) of disrupting operations by breaching lunch break agreements.
The PMA said the actions of the ILWU Local 13, which has allegedly stopped complying with the provision allowing employers to stagger shifts around lunch times, are causing “significant delays” in San Diego Bay.
Cargo movement by truck at the twin ports is now “completely shut down” from 12.00 pm to 1.00 pm daily, instead of normally running at about half-capacity over the meal time, “which causes a longer truck queue and delays to the trucking community,” said Yusen Terminals LLC CEO Alan McCorkle.
The ILWU has denied the accusations, stating that dockworkers are working every day, according to their agreements with the PMA, and that trucks can form lines for many reasons.
The union said the PMA is using the lines to try to influence public opinion. ILWU President Willie Adams released in a statement that his members are allowed “to take a lunch break just like everyone else.”
This disruption comes as cargo volumes dropped sharply at the Southern California ports from peak levels a year ago, and the threat of union unrest has spurred retailers, manufacturers, and other importers to avoid potential shipping snarls by diverting goods to East and Gulf Coasts.
The ILWU represents about 22,000 dockworkers on the West Coast, and their current contract with the PMA expired on 1 July of last year.
Talks for a new contract began in May 2022, with both parties recently expressing the desire to reach a deal soon.