A strike by longshoremen in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has now spread to about 10 terminals in the ports.
The strike began Tuesday at noon when clerical workers representated by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit set up pickets at a single facility, the APM Terminals (APMT) Pier 400 facility in the Port of Los Angeles.
Those workers do office work for the company, but other ILWU longshoremen who handle containers at the terminal honored the pickets and joined the strike.
By Wednesday afternoon, John Fageaux Jr., president of ILWU Local 63, told American Shippe
r members of his local had gone on strike against all 14 of the steamship agencies and terminals at which it represents workers, shutting down terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Port of Long Beach said these terminals had closed as of 2
p.m., Wednesday: Long Beach Container
Terminal at Pier F which handles OOCL ships, International Transportation Service which handles "K" Line at Pier G, and
Total Terminals International at Pier T.
The Port of Los Angeles said in addition to the APMT's Pier 400 these terminals have been shut down: APL, California United Terminals, China Shipping, Evergreen, Yang Ming and Yusen Terminals.
Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said “a work stoppage at America’s two busiest ports just as the holiday shopping season begins is a recipe for disaster. If the strike isn’t resolved quickly, the effects on retailers, their customers and the economy will be enormous. We urge the parties to quickly resolve the dispute and get back to work in order to avoid the substantial economic damage a prolonged work stoppage would surely cause.”
Fageaux said employers of his members are outsourcing jobs and called on the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association (LA/LBHEA), which represents his members' employers, to agree to the union's demands.
Fageaux also claimed that APMT employees had violated the law by listening to union representative phone calls.
The president of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, Paddy Crumlin, said “these are extremely serious charges."
The LA/LBHEA said that "after picketing for approximately one hour, the OCU returned to work at some harbor employers’ off-terminal facilities, but remained on strike at the terminals, shutting down operations in the ports. The OCU’s conduct shows an irresponsible willingness to jeopardize port operations and thousands of jobs in the Los Angeles area in an effort to pressure the employers into accepting its unreasonable demands."
It said "the OCU’s actions mark a dangerous escalation in the ongoing labor dispute. If the OCU continues its strike, the negative effects on jobs and the economy will be felt nationwide."
It said the "OCU has attempted to justify its actions in the media by perpetuating myths that they are not fighting over money and that employers are taking away jobs" but said those claims "do not hold water."
- Chris Dupin