The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (the ULWU) is accused of staging organized work slowdown actions at the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and in Columbia River, raising fears that the tactics could spread to Los Angeles-Long Beach, according to the Journal of Commerce. According to the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents shipping lines and terminal operators in contract negotiations with the ILWU, the work slowdowns are directly related to the coast-wide negotiations. The ILWU-PMA contract expired on July 1, 2014. Since mid-May, the parties have met to negotiate a new agreement regularly.
“The PMA has found that the slowdowns at these Pacific Northwest ports have resulted in terminal productivity being reduced by an average of 40 to 60 percent,” the employers’ organization stated. Port management made a demand for ILWU workers to return to normal productivity levels, and when that effort appeared to have failed, the terminals began sending workers home early with payment for only a few hours worked per shift. The ILWU has accused the PMA of undertaking a “media blitz” aimed at discrediting the ILWU in an attempt to deflect attention from the growing congestion problem at west coast ports.
At this stage Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles are not affected and should be working with production similar to what we have been experiencing for the past several weeks. This could change quickly once information of the PNW terminal actions reaches California. Work slowdowns in Los Angeles/Long Beach would be devastating due to the severe congestion already being experienced. Southern California ports account for over 70% of container traffic on the west coast.
We will provide further updates once available.