West Coast ports have been shut down after union employees stop their jobs over wages

West Coast ports are being closed as union workers fail to show up after negotiations with the Port Authority failed.

The Port of Oakland was closed Friday morning due to insufficient labor for terminal operations. The interruption is expected to last at least until Saturday. A source familiar with the situation told CNBC the port closures are expected to spread across the West Coast due to labor shortages as workers protest wage bargaining in contract negotiations with port management.

Two of the Port of Oakland’s marine terminals — SSA, the largest, and TraPac — were closed beginning Friday’s morning shift, Port of Oakland spokesman Robert Bernardo said. The majority of imports and exports go through these terminals, he said.

Although the action taken by workers isn’t a formal strike, the source told CNBC she must expect shutdowns at other West Coast ports as union workers refuse to report for action. Operations at the Los Angeles port hub were also reportedly suspended, including at Fenix ​​Marine. the APL terminal and the port of Hueneme, which processes cars and perishables – bananas are the largest import in this category. The situation remains uncertain, truck drivers are turned away at locations in Los Angeles.

In an ILWU press release, International President Willie Adams said the talks “did not fail,” adding, “We will not settle for an economic package that reflects the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that reversed the crisis.” does not recognize.” Shipping industry posts gains.”

The disruptions come at a time when activity in West Coast ports had picked up again after losing volume to East Coast ports due to concerns about the volatile labor situation.

At the Port of Oakland, total container volume rose for two consecutive months, with port officials optimistic about the recovery. It is the country’s eighth busiest port, importing a wide range of items from Australian wine and meat to aluminum from South Korea. and clothing, electronics and furniture from China.

“Based on the growth in business we’ve seen over the past several months, we’re optimistic that the second half of 2023 will be stronger in terms of the amount of cargo moving through Oakland,” said Bryan Brandes, Maritime Director for the Port of Oakland . “We also anticipate that the number of ocean freight services offered at the Port of Oakland will increase in the coming months.”

“Oakland is a great port for US agricultural exporters,” said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC). “Fridays are a big day for Ag exports.”

Webcams show no truck activity at the Port of Oakland, where terminal operations have been closed due to labor shortages

Ports and unions have been involved in contract negotiations over the past year, leading to tensions in port operations.

On April 20, the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said they had reached tentative agreement on certain key issues, but no further details were given.

People familiar with the negotiation process told CNBC at the time that it was “major progress.” Previous agreements included maintaining healthcare services. However, known issues that had yet to be resolved included wages, as well as security, automation and pension benefits.

PMA, representing the Port Authority, called the events “concerted and disruptive labor actions” by the ILWU in a statement on Twitter on Friday.

The ILWU released a statement on Friday saying that ordinary workers have taken it upon themselves to “express their displeasure” at the ongoing “tough struggle” with the port authority. ILWU said cargo workers at ports “stay on the job,” but the port source told CNBC there weren’t enough workers overall to continue port operations. The ILWU statement didn’t specifically name wages, instead citing “essential needs” including health and safety and the $500 billion in profits that shipping lines and terminal operators have reaped over the past two years.

The latest work stoppage at the Port of Oakland came in early November, when hundreds of employees quit their jobs over a wage dispute.

Every port closure creates congestion that impacts both pickup and drop-off of products by truck drivers.

In connection with California’s AB 5 legislation, which required truck drivers to be classified as employees, truck drivers also experienced a walkout that lasted five days but took two months to clear. The ILWU did not cross this strike line.

At the Port of Oakland, over 2,100 trucks pass through the terminals daily, but none are expected until Saturday due to an insufficient workforce to operate the trucks.

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