A resolution to the labor disputes between the Office Clerical Unit (OCU) and their employers will not happen today. Clerical workers at the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) continue to strike for a fourth day, with rumors of additional pickets picking up steam inside the ports. Since the strike began on Tuesday, 10 of the 14 terminals between the POLB and the POLA remain closed.
The clerical workers’ contracts with 14 terminal operators expired 2 and a half years ago. The ongoing contract talks broke off on Monday, resumed on Thursday which ran until midnight and continued today. However, despite an arbitration meeting between representatives of the OCU and their employers this morning, it is believed that the closures will continue to spread, with the remaining three terminals in the POLA expected to be picketed at noon today. If a vessel operated by a shipping line affiliated with a OCU terminal attempts to divert to a non-OCU terminal that remains open, the OCU pickets would most likely follow the vessel to that facility.
The union claims the main issue involves alleged outsourcing of jobs to non-OCU workers in other states and overseas, claiming they have already cut hours to try and comply. Shippers deny this is the case, and continue to resist attempts by the union to maintain contract provisions requiring that jobs always be filled when workers are absent or retire (“featherbedding”). They claim they have offered lifetime job security to the 600 or more full-time clerical workers, including increased pay and vacation time.
Combined, Los Angeles and Long Beach handle 40 percent of the nation’s import trade. At least 18 cargo ships have been unable to load or unload since workers began the strike on Tuesday. A handful of vessels that were anchored offshore apparently left for other ports. Stay tuned as more unfolds.