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At the end of November, a workers’ strike closed the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach California. Workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union walked off the job on November 27, and nearly all container terminals were closed. Approximately 40% of the nation’s imports are handled at these ports, and it is vital to the region’s economy. The port of Los Angeles handles the most container traffic in the United States, followed by Long Beach. By having ships deported to other ports, there were very real fears that the region would be adversely effected.
Steve Getzug, a spokesman for the Harbor Employers Association, which represents the terminal operators said “Anyone connected with the shipping chain is not drawing a paycheck today, because of the actions of some of the highest-paid clerical workers in America.” Negotiations with these workers has stalled for two years, triggering a walkout of around 600 clerical employees. "Cargo continues to back up and concern is mounting throughout the worldwide logistics chain," Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. "We need resolution to prevent further economic damage."
Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa sent a message to union leader Jon Fageau, Jr. and employer negotiator Stephen L. Berry saying that the strike is "costing our local economy billions of dollars. The cost is too great to continue down this failed path.” Now, trade groups led by the National Retail Federation have asked President Barack Obama and members of Congress to intervene. The group has estimated that the strike is costing $1 billion per day.
The loss of jobs and revenue would be serious in any economy, but is even more serious in this situation, given California’s weak economy. With repercussions that could impact the entire supply chain of the United States, we can only hope that this is resolved quickly...and without requiring involvement from the nanny state government.