Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published November 3, 2014 at 4:05 PM | Page modified November 5, 2014 at 6:44 AM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments
  • Print

Seattle, Tacoma dockworkers begin work slowdown, shippers say

Pacific Coast dockworkers negotiating a new labor agreement have begun a work slowdown in Seattle and Tacoma, management said, in the first large job action since their contract expired in July.


Bloomberg News

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
Group Health is laying off workers, Nordstrom is laying off workers, Microsoft is laying of workers, and the lazy,... MORE
Id take my business elsewhere.......... MORE
@Scrumdog1 Scrumdog, read up on meanings of words, last time it was a LOCKOUT, that means the employer locks out the... MORE

advertising

Pacific Coast dockworkers negotiating a new labor agreement have begun a work slowdown in Seattle and Tacoma, management said, in the first large job action since their contract expired in July.

The slowdown by members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union reduced container movement to 10 to 18 per hour from 25 to 35, the Pacific Maritime Association, representing terminal operators and shipping lines, said Monday in a statement. The two ports handle an estimated 16 percent of containerized cargo on the West Coast, the association said.

The disruptions come as goods destined for holiday shoppers are unloaded at 29 ports from San Diego to Bellingham. A strike or lockout could cost the U.S. economy more than $2 billion a day, according to the National Retail Federation and National Association of Manufacturers.

“There was a lot of talk of being able to come to agreement back in August, and a lot of us were optimistic,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the retail federation. “The uncertainty is wreaking havoc with companies’ supply chains.”

The 20,000-member longshore union has been negotiating with the shippers since May on a new contract to replace a six-year pact that ran out. Union spokesman Craig Merrilees declined to comment on whether the union ordered or endorsed the slowdown.

The longshoremen issued a statement disputing the shippers’ assertion that the union had pledged to maintain “normal operations” at ports during the negotiations.

“PMA’s media offensive is designed to smear the union and to deflect responsibility from a growing congestion problem that is plaguing major West Coast ports,” according to the statement distributed by Merrilees.

“In Tacoma, the ILWU is not filling orders for skilled workers, including straddle carrier operators who are critical to terminal operations,” Wade Gates, a spokesman for the maritime association, said in the statement. “This is like sending out a football team without the receivers or running backs. You can’t run the plays without them.”

At the Port of Tacoma, most terminals “are still open, but they are experiencing backups,” port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said in a statement. Port of Seattle spokesman Peter McGraw referred questions to the maritime association’s statement and declined further comment.

Gates said the slowdowns are affecting only Seattle and Tacoma. Steve Getzug, another maritime group spokesman, declined to comment about the status of negotiations.

The two sides announced a provisional deal on health care expenses in late August, without disclosing terms. Another issue is how to retrain and preserve jobs for dockworkers as automation reduces the number of positions, as well as salaries and work rules.

The dockworker union and management have said they are working to avoid a repeat of a 2002 lockout that lasted 10 days and cost the economy about $1 billion a day. Negotiations have alternated between the union and management headquarters, both in San Francisco, with public statements issued jointly until Monday.

Uncertainty over the labor contract didn’t stand in the way of port officials in Los Angeles and Long Beach taking measures to alleviate truck and container congestion there.

The four companies that control the majority of truck chassis at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach agreed to share the 95,000 vehicle frames to speed the movement of containers and trucks, Los Angeles port chief Gene Seroka said in an interview. Previously, containers could be placed only on chassis from a specific company.

“Although there’s no real, singular answer to the congestion within the supply chain and the areas that need improvement, this is going to be very good going down the line,” Seroka said.

Thirteen ships were lined up waiting for berths at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports this morning. Seroka said he’s concerned that the backups could lead shippers to send their goods elsewhere.

Bloomberg reporter Peter Robison in Seattle contributed to this report.



Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

Also in Business & Technology

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Relive the magic

Relive the magic

Shop for unique souvenirs highlighting great sports moments in Seattle history.

Advertising

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►