LOS ANGELES — The Pacific Maritime Association is again suspending operations for unloading ships at the West Coast ports affected by negotiations over a key labor contract.
The association representing cargo carriers and terminal operators — which is in a nine-month-long dispute with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — will cease the loading and unloading of cargo off vessels for four days, affecting work on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The ports will operate as normal on Friday.
The four-day suspension follows a previous one imposed by the association on 29 ports last weekend. In response, the union called the second suspension an effort to put economic pressure on dockworkers and gain leverage in the talks. It added that after canceling a negotiating session on Wednesday afternoon, the PMA hasn’t been available for negotiations since last Friday.
Considered a holiday period sandwiched between two presidents’ birthdays, workers during the four days would command a pay premium of at least 50 percent of the basic longshore wage, according to the PMA. In Southern California, terminal operators will extend hours on non-holiday weekdays, including on Friday, the PMA said. The yards, trucks and railways will continue operations during the suspension of vessel operations.
The PMA’s decision to continue suspending operations spurred a growing number of frustrated companies who rely on the ports for shipping to call the White House to intervene. “The continued intransigence by labor and management to reach a new contract is unacceptable. Retailers and the rest of the supply chain are frustrated beyond belief. The slowdowns need to end. The brinkmanship needs to stop. It’s time for the White House to immediately engage in this critically important economic priority and force the two sides to remain at the negotiating table until a deal is done,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain at the National Retail Federation. “The ILWU and PMA are delaying cargo and merchandise in the short-term while harming the competitiveness of the West Coast ports in the long-term. This stalemate is hurting American businesses, their employees and consumers.”