West Coast Ports Face Work Disruptions

Leah Shepherd By Leah Shepherd June 6, 2023

​Dockworkers on the West Coast are slowing or stopping work in order to seek higher wages in union negotiations with their employers. The actions have impacted operations at ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Hueneme in California, as well as Seattle and Tacoma in Washington State.

We gathered a set of articles on the news from SHRM Online and other trusted sources.

Negotiations Going Slowly

Unionized dockworkers throttled cargo operations at several West Coast ports on June 5, extending job actions that have snarled imports at some of the country's biggest trade gateways.

The disruptions, which began June 1, are continuing as the dockworkers and their employers wrangle over a new multiyear labor contract that covers more than 29 ports from California to Washington State. The sides have been negotiating for more than a year and have reached tentative deals on benefits and on terms for the use of automation but have hit a roadblock on wages.

(The Wall Street Journal)

Acting Labor Secretary Working on Agreement

More than 22,000 dockworkers have been working without a contract since July 2022. Contract talks between the employers' Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and workers' International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are in the final stretch, but frustrations are running high after more than a year at the negotiating table.

A source familiar with the talks said Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su is engaging with the parties.

ILWU International President Willie Adams on June 2 said dockworkers played a vital role in keeping goods moving in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to share in the record profits reaped when cargo surged.


Retailers Raise Concerns

The National Retail Federation is calling on the Biden administration to intervene in negotiations to resolve the labor dispute ahead of the summer, heading into the peak holiday shipping season.

"Thousands of retailers and other businesses depend on smooth and efficient operations at the ports to deliver goods to consumers every day," said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation.


Growing Number of Strikes

Strikes occurred much more frequently in 2022, compared to 2021, according to the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). There were 417 strikes and seven lockouts in 2022, up from 279 the previous year, the ILR found. Approximately 224,000 workers were involved in the work stoppages last year, up from 140,000 in 2021—a 60 percent increase.

(SHRM Online)

Rules for Permanent Replacements

Under existing law, employers may not use permanent replacements during an unfair labor practice strike or during a lockout. The office of the general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board recently recommended adding significant restrictions to when employers may use permanent replacements during economic strikes—when workers seek higher wages, shorter hours or better working conditions.

(SHRM Online)



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