Los Angeles-Long Beach Seaport Strike Quiets Nation’s Largest Container Ports
Clerical workers have shut down seven of eight terminals at the Port of Los Angeles (the 13th largest port in the US), along with six at Long Beach (the fourth largest port in the US, responsible for more than $100 billion in annual trade), on Wednesday after 10,000 workers refused to cross picket lines at the nation’s largest combined cargo complex. The strikes mark the biggest work stoppages at the ports in a decade, but comes on the heels of most holiday goods passing through the ports. Los Angeles and Long Beach are the nation’s first and second busiest container ports, respectively. California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein issued a quick statement urging an end to the dispute “so we can protect the economy of the Los Angeles region, the West Coast and our nation, which will be adversely affected by the closures at these ports.”
“You are stranding goods at ports that handle 40% of the nation’s import trade,” said Jock O’Connell, an international trade economist.
The union involved with the main strike boasts only 800 members. The two ports employ more than half a million. The strike did have approval of the larger 50,000 member ILWU dockworkers, clerks and other workers, who handle trade issues for all cargo on the west coasts of the US, Canada and in Hawaii. 10,000 of those 50,000 work at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, and they did not work.
In 2002, a 10-day strike at all West Coast ports left ships piling up offshore, unable to unload cargo. The cost of the strike was estimated around $15 billion.
Volume by US seaport, 2007-2008: