PMA: ILWU Withholding Skilled Longshore Workers
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) has accused the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) of leading a sustained campaign over the last two months to withhold skilled longshore workers from their shifts throughout the U.S. West Coast ports.
PMA says that the qualified yard crane drivers play a vital role by delivering and receiving container loads from truckers, and by withholding them, the ILWU has negatively impacted cargo-handling operations throughout Southern California.
According to PMA, ILWU has been withholding qualified yard crane drivers since October 2014 in an attempt to gain leverage on employers in the midst of contentious negotiations for a new coast-wide contract.
The PMA estimates that since the ILWU took its unilateral action in Southern California, the average number of shifts for qualified crane operators has dropped from an average of more than 110 per day to under 35 per day, resulting in tens of thousands of containers available for discharge sitting on the docks at the twin ports.
“The congestion in the terminals is near a breaking point. It’s not solely the number of longshoreman the Union is making available that matters, it’s the type of workers themselves. Without qualified yard crane drivers who play a critical role in loading and offloading cargo containers from trucks, the congestion problem is made far worse at terminal yards,” PMA spokesperson Wade Gates said.
Image: Port of Long Beach