Port of Tacoma work slowdown continues, extends to California ports

A work slowdown at the Port of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle has extended to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Meanwhile, in Tacoma, Port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said Thursday, “We continue to experience the productivity issues we have been experiencing.”

A spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents terminal operators and shipping lines, said Thursday that the work slowdown has affected Tacoma and Seattle shippers.

There has been “up to 60 percent reduced productivity,” said spokesman Wade Gates.

A PMA press release Thursday said the work slowdown has extended to Southern California.

“The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has now targeted the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by unilaterally refusing to dispatch hundreds of qualified, skilled workers for critically important positions transporting containers in terminal yards at the nation’s largest port complex,” the organization stated.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the ILWU in San Francisco, said Thursday, “There is a great deal of frustration among longshore workers who see a failure by employers to address underlying issues.”

He said that “delays in negotiations (are) triggering frustration and the need to resolve the differences as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of retailers, manufacturers and farmers have urged President Barack Obama to become involved in the negotiations, according to a National Retail Federation notice Thursday.

Led by the NRF and supported by groups including the National Federation of Manufacturers, the coalition also recommended the use of a federal mediator to “forestall any threat of a management-directed lockout or labor-initiated strike.”

Dean McGrath, president of ILWU Local 23 in Tacoma, said Thursday that “the retailers have created a sense of crisis since May. “They kind of whipped things into hysterics,” he said.

“After months of stalled negotiations, it is clear to the workforce that shippers have created challenging obstacles,” he said.

Talks between the sides continued Thursday, Merrilees said, “and they will continue.”

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune