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Further Labor Disruptions Threaten Talks

The Pacific Maritime Association is alleging strategic disruptions at West Coast ports by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as the cause of continued tension between the two groups, according to the Long Beach Business Journal

What’s going on: “‘Last week, ILWU Local 13 withheld labor that shut down terminals throughout the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach,’ said the Pacific Maritime Association in a statement. ‘This week, the union has unilaterally delayed the standard dispatch process, which is jointly administered by PMA and ILWU, and refused to allow PMA’s participation in the labor dispatch process.’”

  • According to the PMA, the ILWU’s actions have slowed operations, forced equipment out of operation at some key terminals and accelerated the diversion of cargo to the East and Gulf coasts.
  • “The union attributed the dockworker shortage to union members attending its monthly meeting and observing religious holidays.”

Why it’s important: According to a June 2022 NAM-commissioned study, if the current labor uncertainty becomes a full shutdown at only the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, in 15 days the U.S. economy could lose $500 million a day and some 41,000 jobs.

  • Last month, the NAM joined a coalition urging the Biden administration to intervene in the stalled negotiations.

The last word: “For nearly a year, the NAM has been leading calls for the White House and administration officials to take a more active role in this negotiation,” said NAM Director of Infrastructure Policy Ben Siegrist.

  • “Though tensions have simmered as the talks have continued, these latest disruptions signal a shift in strategy and will only add to the staggering impact already borne by industrial shippers. Manufacturers require the certainty that can only come with a resolution to this process, and the NAM will continue pressing the White House to act.”
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