Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Dockworkers returned to work at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports Tuesday, following a partial work stoppage over the weekend stemming from a labor dispute between West Coast port terminal operators and their employees.

Employees were greeted by 32 ships waiting to get into the ports — two more than during the weekend — and about 20 other ships were at berth that had not been unloaded or loaded all weekend, Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.

Not many goods are leaving the United States, while “imports are still coming in,” Mayor Eric Garcetti told local business leaders this morning at an unrelated event hosted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

“But that means that our agriculture, that means that our raw materials that we’re exporting out of the Port of L.A., are not moving,” the mayor said.

He warned that with port customers contracting with competing Gulf Coast and East Coast ports, “trade may never come back if we don’t resolve” the labor dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents 29 West Coast ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dockworkers.

The months-long labor talks have grown increasingly contentious in recent weeks, with the PMA issuing orders to halt the loading and unloading of ships at all West Coast ports during the past two weekends.

Employers say workers are conducting an illegal slowdown that has driven down productivity, and they would no longer pay for work that is not being done. The ILWU has denied they are slowing their work pace.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez intervened in talks in San Francisco today in an attempt to help resolve the dispute.

Federal mediators continue to facilitate talks between the two parties, according to an ILWU spokesman, but have barred them from issuing public statements.

City News Service

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