Shipping companies feel impact of US West Coast strikes

The Port of Los Angeles

Shipping companies have borne the brunt of the recent strikes plaguing major US West Coast ports in what has become the longest labour-related disruption the West Coast has suffered since 2015.

Major hubs in the US have seen almost every containership experience either delayed callings or delayed departures, reported Bloomberg – especially at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The media outlet also reported that those on strike who have afflicted operations with particular effect include “lashers” or longshoremen, according to Richard Palmer of the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Palmer stated: “Basically every container vessel is having their schedule pushed back by about a day or two.”

READ: Boxship backlog at Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles finally ends

Labour contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and workers’ International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) remain unsettled, after the previous contract, covering 29 ports from California to Washington State, expired last July, Bloomberg reported.

Despite Gene Seroka, Chief Executive of the Port of Los Angeles, predicting last December that a deal would be reached by Spring of 2023, negotiations between the ILWU, who represent 22,000 dockworkers, and the PMA now enter the summer period, having begun in May 2022.

Much of the contention stems from a lack of monetary recognition for dockworkers who believe to have made significant contributions during the pandemic that led to unprecedented levels of profits enjoyed by ports and shipping companies.

To compound the ILWU’s distress, according to Reuters, shipping companies who saw these surges in profits had either full or part ownership of several West Coast terminals.

The ILWU now seeks a long-term agreement encompassing compensation and benefits.

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