LOS ANGELES — The queue of vessels waiting to enter West Coast ports grew on Friday as dockworkers hurried to load and unload vessels before a suspension of operations resumes on Saturday, for three days.
The ships arrived in the middle of the four-day suspension ordered by the Pacific Maritime Association during its protracted negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union for a key labor contract covering 29 ports.
On Friday morning, 27 vessels sat at anchor outside both the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In Oakland, 18 ships waited for berths while another nine were being unloaded on Friday morning. The Oakland Port also saw heavy truck traffic at many of the terminal gates.
The PMA issued the suspension of operations for Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Friday was a normal day of operations. Considered a holiday period sandwiched between two presidents’ birthdays, the four days would have commanded a pay premium of at least 50 percent of the basic longshore wage, according to the PMA.
The PMA, which includes 72 multinational cargo carriers and terminal operators, and the ILWU, which represents 20,000 dockworkers, have strained to come to terms over the past nine months to finalize a new contract that would replace the six-year agreement that expired last July. The delay in reaching a new contract, along with the port congestion that hurt importers struggling to ship products to stores, has spurred a bipartisan congressional resolution calling the two sides to quickly conclude the negotiations.