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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
8 Apr 2023

NextImg:Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach Up and Running After Workers Walking Off Job

SAN PEDRO, Calif.—The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were back in operation April 8 after a worker shortage shut down the country’s largest port complex for parts of two days.

The shortage came amid protracted labor negotiations between the union that represents West Coast dockworkers and the industry group representing shippers. Both parties are negotiating new contracts with priorities on wages and the role of automation.

The old contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired July 1.

The ports experienced a shortage April 6 night and part of April 7, but workers began returning to the docks Friday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the Pacific Maritime Association, the industry group that represents shippers at the negotiating table, told City News Service on Saturday that “labor has been dispatched to the Ports of LA and Long Beach since second shift yesterday.”

Sgt. Huang with Los Angeles Port Police told City News Service that the Los Angeles port appeared to be operating at full capacity Saturday, and a dispatcher at the Port of Long Beach said that the facility was also operating normally Saturday.

The maritime association said Friday that “the largest ILWU local on the West Coast has taken a concerted action to withhold labor at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, resulting in widespread workers shortages.

“A majority of the jobs for last night’s shift went unfilled, including all jobs for cargo-handling equipment operators needed to load and unload cargo. The workers who did show up were released because there was not a full complement of ILWU members to operate the terminals,” the association continued.

International Longshore Warehouse Union Local 13 (ILWU) also withheld labor Friday morning, effectively shutting down the twin ports, officials said.

But according to a statement from the ILWU, longshore workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were still hard at work and remain committed to moving the nation’s cargo.

The union attributed the dockworker shortage to workers attending a union meeting and observing Good Friday, according to a statement to The Epoch Times.

On Thursday, the local chapter held a monthly membership meeting, with several thousand members attending, according to the union. And on Friday, “union members who observe religious holidays took the opportunity to celebrate with their families,” the union said.

At the meeting, outgoing President Ramon Ponce de Leon swore in incoming President Gary Herrera, with several thousand union members in attendance.

However, the Pacific Maritime Association accused the union’s actions of threatening to further accelerate the diversion of discretionary cargo to ports on the East and Gulf coasts.

Port of Los Angeles officials issued a statement Friday regarding the temporary San Pedro Bay Terminal closures, saying they were in communication with the workers union and the maritime association, along with federal, state, and local officials, to support a return to normal operations in the ports.

“Resuming cargo operations at America’s busiest port complex is critical to maintain the confidence of our customers and supply chain stakeholders,” port officials said in a statement.

Jill McLaughlin contributed to this report.