Strike slows activity at busy Calif. port complex

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 1, 2012 at 3:17 am •  Published: December 1, 2012
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A strike dramatically slowed activity at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — the nation's busiest cargo complex — despite renewed efforts to end the walkout.

Seven of eight terminals in Los Angeles and three of six in Long Beach were closed to cargo container traffic Friday, the fourth day of the walkout, as dockworkers refused to cross picket lines set up by union clerical workers who claim shippers are outsourcing their jobs.

Officials said labor talks were being held but there's been no indication a deal is imminent.

The walkout involves clerical workers from a chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who typically make more than $160,000 a year. Dockworkers are a separate unit of the same union.

The clerical workers' contracts with 14 terminal operators expired 2½ years ago. Ongoing contract talks broke off on Monday then resumed on Thursday, ran until midnight and were scheduled to continue on Friday.

The chief negotiator for the shippers remained hopeful about a resolution, saying the talks have been professional and courteous.

"There's a mutual commitment to go forward," said Stephen Berry of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association. "The employers remain hopeful that there will be a quick resolution and we can get the cargo flowing again."

There were a handful of picketers at each terminal on Friday, said Phillip Sanfield, Los Angeles port spokesman.

Combined, Los Angeles and Long Beach handle 40 percent of the nation's import trade.

At least 18 cargo ships have been unable to load or unload since workers began the strike on Tuesday. A handful of vessels that were anchored offshore apparently left for other ports, Sanfield said.

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