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Dockworkers slow down at West Coast ports amid ongoing labor dispute

caption: Shipping containers at the Port of Seattle.
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Shipping containers at the Port of Seattle.

Dockworkers up and down the West Coast are slowing operations amid an ongoing labor dispute, according to a trade group that represents the ports. The Pacific Maritime Association says work stoppages are disrupting trade in Washington state and beyond.

Contract negotiations between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union and the industry group representing their employers have dragged on for more than a year.

Both groups declined to comment on the status of those talks.

The Pacific Maritime Association, however, has published statements accusing the union of effectively shutting down operations at some terminals in Southern California over the past few days.

In a statement issued last Friday, the Association said: "The ILWU is staging concerted and disruptive work actions that have effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Union is also staging similar work actions that have shut down or severely impacted terminal operations at the Ports of Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Hueneme."

The Maritime Association followed up with a second statement Monday saying that "disruptive work actions" are ongoing: "Union leaders are implementing many familiar disruption tactics from their job action playbook, including refusing to dispatch workers to marine terminals, slowing operations, and making unfounded health and safety claims. The ILWU’s coast-wide work actions since June 2 are forcing retailers, manufacturers and other shippers to shift cargo away from the West Coast in favor of ports on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Much of the diverted cargo may never return to the West Coast."

Some companies that rely on those ports say delays have been ongoing as the longshoremen fight for a new contract. Those shippers say they’ve had to reroute cargo to places like Houston and truck it the rest of the way.

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