LOS ANGELES — With heightened attention from a growing number of politicians, negotiations over a key labor contract covering the West Coast ports continued today as more ships lined up to unload cargo at the docks.
Talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association resumed today after both sides met on Thursday night. They face a reported deadline set for today by Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has been in San Francisco since Monday to help broker a deal and was recently joined by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
As of this morning, 27 ships waited offshore from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In Oakland, 16 vessels waited for berths to open.
Truck traffic at the Oakland port moved briskly following a suspension of operations on Thursday to allow dockworkers a day off to attend a union meeting. The port of Los Angeles reported that, other than the four-day suspension that the PMA issued last weekend, it has been operating on a normal schedule this week.
On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein urged the heads of the PMA and ILWU to agree on the choice of an arbitrator, which represents the final issue standing between them and a new contract to replace the six-year collective agreement that expired last July.
“While it is understandable that the parties can disagree, it is highly disappointing that with so much at stake, you have not been able to come up with a path forward on this one remaining issue,” the Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the PMA and ILWU. “The consequences of failing to resolve this dispute immediately would be devastating to our economy and to the millions of people who work hard every day for agricultural producers, manufacturers and other businesses, both large and small, in California and around the world.”