However, there were concerns that a continued widespread strike could prompt retaliation from terminal operators. A bitter 10-day lockout at a number of West Coast ports in 2002 caused an estimated $15 billion in losses.
At issue is the union's contention that terminal operators have outsourced local clerical jobs out of state and overseas — an allegation that the shippers deny.
Striking clerical worker Trinie Thompson, 41, said Thursday afternoon that her fellow strikers do work at computers — such as collections, customer service and setting up container movement — that can be handled from anywhere, and employers were taking advantage of that to use non-union workers overseas.
“We're definitely concerned about the outsourcing of jobs here,” said Thompson, who added jobs were being sent to Costa Rica, India and Taiwan. “We need to keep the jobs here in the United States.”
The negotiating group for the shippers has denied any local union clerical jobs were outsourced. The shippers, in turn, claim that the union wants contract language to permit “featherbedding” — the practice of requiring employers to call in temporary employees and hire new permanent employees even when there is no work to perform.