Clerical workers at shipping terminals in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have reached agreement on a new contract with employers, ending a strike that had shut down the nation’s two largest ports for a week.
The Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association, which represents 14 employers covering 10 terminals in the two ports, said at 11 p.m. Pacific Standard Time that they had reached an agreement on a new contract to replace one that had expired on June 30, 2010 ,with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU)
The employer group said longshoremen who had been honoring the pickets will return to work this morning.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the eight-day strike was over,
but cost the local economy billions of dollars.
"I would like to thank both the employers and the union for returning to the bargaining table in earnest beginning last night and working feverishly to reach a new deal," he said. "The result is a contract amenable to both sides and the return to work during this holiday season for thousands of men and women who are vital to keeping our port running around the clock.
"With the strike now ending, we must waste no time in getting the nation’s busiest port complex’s operations back up to speed," he added.
The agreement came just hours after members from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service were asked to join the talks. The OCU had been resisting calls for a mediator until yesterday.
Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz thanked Villaraigosa for his "leadership and tenacity in keeping the negotiations moving over the past 24 hours. The days ahead will be busy, but we look forward to seeing a workforce of thousands back on the job and returning this complex to business as usual.”
The ILWU said in a press release
that the agreement will "secure good jobs for working families in the harbor community by winning new protections that will help prevent jobs from being outsourced to Texas, Taiwan and beyond."
“This victory was accomplished because of support from the entire ILWU family of 10,000 members in the harbor community,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath.
ILWU Local 63-OCU President John Fageaux thanked union members for having the courage to stand up and strike against powerful employers in order to protect good jobs into the future. “This was a community effort that will benefit working families for many years to come,” he said.
ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe said the end of the strike means about 10,000 ILWU longshoremen who were honoring the OCU picket lines can go back to working ships.
Major shipper groups said they were pleased with the end of the West Coast strike, but also noted that negotiations are underway between employers and a different union that represents longshoremen on the East and Gulf coasts, the International Longshoremen's Association. The ILA's contract with employers represented by the U.S. Maritime Alliance expired Sept. 30, but was extended until Dec. 30. Negotiations, which are being aided by a federal mediator, will resume next week.
Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, and Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said they welcomed the end of the strike.
Shay said “our attention now shifts to the East and Gulf coast ports, where federal mediators have been locked in prolonged discussions with labor and management for the past two months.
“We urge the parties to reach a final agreement before their contract extension ends at the end of December. Retailers, manufacturers and the rest of the business community cannot afford another shutdown," he added. "Our economy cannot withstand another port disruption.” - Chris Dupin