West Coast Ports Reopen as Contract Talks Continue
After a labor dispute between dockworkers and their employers resulted in two days of not unloading any ships, West Coast seaports reopened Monday as contract talks continue.
According to ABC News, the workers and employers are negotiating a new contract, and disagreements and tension resulted in cargo moving slower than normal through ports that account for almost $1 trillion annually—one quarter of the nation’s international trade.
Over the weekend, companies hired workers to move cargo containers that had been unloaded from the ships, creating congestion in the yards. Employers said that they wouldn’t pay full crews that they believe have been slowing the work as a bargaining method. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union disputed claims that there was little space for new containers and the work pace of its members had slowed. If the conditions continued, the maritime association that represents the employers believed it would result in complete gridlock as soon as Monday, which would have shut down ports entirely.
The original contract expired in July, and a federal mediator was brought in January. The two sides have disagreed over topics including wages and how to settle future disputes.
The contract discussions were supposed to take place Monday in San Francisco, but were moved to today. Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said that the union negotiators “are ready to meet immediately and work on a settlement.”