Monday, January 26, 2015

San Pedro Bay Dockworkers Protest Labor Cutbacks

By Mark Edward Nero

Thousands of dockworkers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and their supporters held a march and rally on Jan. 22 to protest the suspension of night shifts at the ports by the Pacific Maritime Association.

An estimated 6,000 people, led by a high school marching band, walked along Harbor Blvd. from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro to the Maritime Museum about half a mile away around sunset. The march was organized by the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the district that includes the port.

The PMA said Jan. 12 that it would no longer assign crews to load and unload cargo ships overnight at the two ports so that they could better deal with the problem of traffic congestion that has been plaguing port terminals for several months.

The reduction in operating hours has had a negative effect on dockworkers, according to the International Longshore & Warehouse Union. More than 800 jobs have been affected, according to the ILWU.

The union blames the congestion issues on “managerial mistakes,” including a lack of dock space for containers and shortages of chassis, and says that cancelling night shifts and reducing bulk operations will do nothing to ease congestion.

On the other hand the PMA, which has been engaged in contract negotiations with the ILWU since May 2014, claims that the union has orchestrated the situation by engaging in a work slowdown.
The PMA has given no indication that it is willing to resume night shift anytime soon and neither side has indicated that contract negotiations could be wrapped up in the near future.