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Longshore & Warehouse Union clerical workers launch strike at L.A.-area ports


Yesterday, work stopped at several terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., because of a strike launched by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63-Office Clerical Unit. Three of the six container terminals at the Port of Long Beach weren't operating.

Eight hundred port workers represented by the unit have been trying to negotiate a new agreement with international carriers and terminal operators for more than two years since their previous three-year contract expired on June 30, 2010.

Workers began walking off the job on Tuesday because contract bargaining had reached an impasse, ILWU officials said in a prepared statement. Because other ILWU members refused to cross picket lines, work ceased at the terminals.

"It's not about wages and benefits, it's about outsourcing and the future of good jobs in America and our harbor communities," said Local 63-Office Clerical Unit President John Fageaux.

The striking workers, most of whom are women, are trying to prevent their jobs from being sent overseas, said U.S. Reps. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) in separate statements.

"These are good American jobs that should stay here in the United States for these workers and for future generations," said Chu. "I urge a swift resolution that safeguards the employment for office clerical workers at the Port of Los Angeles as quickly as possible, so they can get back to work and the port can continue functioning as a vital artery to our region and the country."

The nation's two busiest ports need to continue operating because a work stoppage at the start of the holiday shopping season is a "recipe for disaster," said Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) officials in a prepared statement.

"If the strike isn't resolved quickly, the effects on retailers, their customers and the economy will be enormous," said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. "We urge the parties to quickly resolve the dispute and get back to work in order to avoid the substantial economic damage a prolonged work stoppage would surely cause."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/29/2012