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The Very Busy Ports Of LA And Long Beach Are Effectively Shut Down

A cargo ship has containers stacked right high and higher. There's a view to a bridge and slow covered mountains beyond.
The Port of Los Angeles in February.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were effectively shut down today because of worker shortages. The lack of activity at the ports — typically some of the busiest in the world — comes as contract negotiations have been underway for months.

Shipping operators say the shutdown is because of a work stoppage by union dockworkers — but the union disputes that claim.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) put out a statement Friday morning saying that the ports had been effectively shut down after the International Longshore and Warehouse, Local 13 (ILWU) union took a "concerted action to withhold labor" at the ports Thursday night and Friday morning — leading to widespread worker shortages.

According to the PMA, the lack of workers Thursday night meant "a majority of the jobs for last night’s shift went unfilled, including all jobs for cargo-handling equipment operators needed to load and unload cargo."

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The ILWU, which represents 22,000 members at 29 West Coast ports, says its workers are not withholding labor. In a statement, union officials said that on Thursday night thousands of dockworkers attended a monthly union meeting, which they said in a statement is a "contractural right." They said workers took Friday off to observe religious holidays.

Union officials said "cargo operations are ongoing as longshore workers at the ports remain on the job."

A daily activity report for the Port of L.A. indicates no labor crews on the job on Friday. Thursday the report lists 31 labor crews.

The Long Beach Business Journal reported that all seven container terminals at the Port of L.A. were closed Friday and four of the six terminals at the Port of Long Beach were shuttered.

The dockworkers contract expired in July 2022.

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