ILWU shuts down LA/Long Beach container terminals

By Patrick Burnson · December 4, 2011

International Longshore and Warehouse Union office clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach broke off contract talks and set up picket lines at four container terminals late last week.  Four terminals are currently shut down.

The latest disruption of services comes as shippers are anticipating the impact of a widespread “Occupy Movement” shutdown of all port operations on the U.S. West Coast on December 12.

While the two developments are unrelated, they still point to the shipper perception that the ocean cargo gateways on the Pacific Rim are vulnerable to political pressures that can have a profound impact on the supply chain.

The Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates and administers waterfront contracts with ILWU longshoremen, marine clerks and foremen has called upon a local arbitrator to settle the current imbroglio at the LA/Long Beach, but no word has been sent out yet regarding the potential shut downs that may occur when the “occupy” forces make good on their promises.

It should be noted that the ILWU is trying to distance itself from the anarchists comprising the non-union movement, but past statements of “solidarity” have compromised that effort. Further complicating the issue is the role the Teamsters Union may play in the action scheduled for December 12. Up until now, the trucker’s union has been openly supportive of the “occupy” movement, as it furthers its cause to organize independent owner-operators of drayage rigs.

Last month, The General Executive Board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters unanimously passed a resolution supporting the right of protesters at Occupy Wall Street to assemble.

As to whether a “perfect storm” is expected on the West Coast before Christmas is a matter of conjecture, but many shippers may be reconfiguring their vessel deployment strategies for 2012 to mitigate risk of having cargo delivery delayed or detained.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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