August 6, 2014 - For executives at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the 120 disgruntled truck drivers who picketed for five days last month proved to be little more than a nuisance. Now the busiest ports in the United States face a potentially wider problem: 7,000 longshore workers joining them.
"The big question now is whether the longshoremen walk," said Phillip Sanfield, a Port of Los Angeles spokesman.
"There would be some impact if the truckers disrupt traffic. But if the longshoremen honour the picket lines? It's much, much bigger."
If members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) refuse to cross the independent drivers' picket line, it would put at risk a portion of the US$435 billion worth of annual trade through Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two largest US ports.
That would pinch retailers, many of whom have been struggling to increase sales this year, before the holiday shopping season.
West Coast longshoremen have worked without a contract since July 11.
Talks between the union and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association resumed on Monday after a 10-day break.
The old contract prohibited longshoremen from striking in support of the truck drivers. With no contract, the longshoremen are now free to join picket lines.
Source: The Business Times