June 7, 2023
3 min

Dockworkers Shut Down, Slow Cargo Operations at West Coast Ports

  • Shipping executives say walkouts and slowdowns halted international trade at Oakland and hampered container handling from Southern California to Seattle.
  • The disruptions were triggered by a dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents terminal operators and shipping lines.
  • The ILWU accused the PMA of violating a contract provision that guarantees union members a minimum number of work hours per week.
  • The PMA denied the allegation and said the union was engaging in an illegal work stoppage to pressure the employers to agree to their demands.
  • The standoff affected several major ports, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma, causing delays and congestion for importers and exporters.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard intervened to mediate the dispute and urged both parties to resume normal operations as soon as possible.
  • The West Coast ports handle about 40% of U.S. containerized imports and exports, and are vital for the flow of goods across the Pacific.
  • The port disruptions added to the challenges faced by the global supply chain, which is already strained by capacity shortages, high freight rates and pandemic-related disruptions.
  • The last major labor dispute at the West Coast ports occurred in 2014-2015, when a contract negotiation between the ILWU and the PMA dragged on for nine months, causing severe congestion and losses for shippers and retailers.
  • The current contract between the ILWU and the PMA expires in July 2023, raising concerns about the possibility of another prolonged conflict.

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Written by
Adhikansh Gupta
Content Manager

Writer and editor who covers the latest trends and innovations in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry