Weekend vessel loading and unloading operations are being temporarily suspended this weekend at the US West Coast containerized ports, with yard, rail and gate operations continuing at terminal operators’ discretion, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said.
PMA added that in light of ongoing union slowdowns up and down the coast which have brought the ports almost to a standstill, PMA member companies will no longer continue to pay workers premium pay for diminished productivity.
“After three months of union slowdowns, it makes no sense to pay extra for less work,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates, “especially if there is no end in sight to the union’s actions which needlessly brought West Coast ports to the brink of gridlock.”
Vessel operations are scheduled to resume Monday, February 9.
ILWU International President Robert McEllrath blasted the PMA for threatening to shut down West Coast ports, bargaining in the media, and distorting the facts.
“Intensifying the rhetoric at this stage of bargaining, when we are just a few issues from reaching an agreement, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.”
According to McEllrath, the employers are deliberately worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table.
The US National Retail Federation’s Vice President for Supply Chain Jonathan Gold said that temporarily suspending port operations is just another example of the ILWU and PMA shooting themselves in the collective bargaining foot.
“The continuing slowdowns and increasing congestion at West Coast ports are bringing the fears of a port shutdown closer to a reality. The entire supply chain – from agriculture to manufacturing and retail to transportation – have been dealing with the lack of a West Coast port contract for the last nine months.”
“Enough is enough. The escalating rhetoric, the threats, the dueling press releases and the inability to find common ground between the two sides are simply driving up the cost of products, jeopardizing American jobs and threatening the long term viability of businesses large and small.
Our message to the ILWU and PMA: Stop holding the supply chain community hostage. Get back to the negotiating table, work with the federal mediator and agree on a new labor contract.”