Editor's note: This story has been updated to report the Pacific Maritime Association is the organization negotiating on behalf of West Coast seaports.
Longshoreman walked away from their jobs at three local port terminals Tuesday morning in support of striking short haul truckers before an arbitrator ordered them to go back to work.
Representatives for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said the three terminals were briefly closed as a result of labor strife between drivers and three Los Angeles area trucking firms. Hundreds of drivers began a strike on Monday to protest what they consider to be unfair working conditions related to their employers’ decision to classify them as independent contractors instead of employees.
The brief work stoppage took place during a pause in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s collective bargaining negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents West Coast ports. The two sides announced a 72-hour pause in those negotiations that went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The pause meant that the conditions of their existing contract went into effect. Under terms in that contract, longshoremen had to return to work.
The brief work stoppage closed operations at three terminals, Evergreen Container and APL terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, as well as the Long Beach Container Terminal.
“We had picketers starting this morning … the Longshoremen decided to honor the picket line at the Long Beach Container Terminal,” Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson said.
The workers were back at their jobs about 11 a.m. Tuesday. Port of Long Beach spokesman Phillip Sanfield said the shutdown there lasted about two hours and had “minimal” effect on port operations.
The truckers’ strike, in its second day on Tuesday, stems from a dispute between drivers and the firms of Green Fleet Systems, Pacific 9 Transportation and Total Transportation Systems Inc. The strike is organized by the Teamsters union affiliate Justice for L.A./L.B. Truck Drivers.
Striking truckers want to be classified as full employees of the firms. Green Fleet Systems, however, issued a statement that a spokesman said could be applied to all firms stating its case that most drivers working there are not aligned with the union’s cause.
"Green Fleet is discouraged to learn that outside interest groups have again decided to block the rights of these drivers to go to work and earn a living,” the statement said. “Time and time again every segment of the industry has rejected the efforts of these groups and their agenda. It is unfortunate that once again we must wait out what has become a distraction.”
Barbara Maynard, speaking for the striking drivers, said she did not have an exact number of affected truckers who did not work Tuesday, but said the tally was in the hundreds.
“This is the fourth time that the drivers have struck in less than a year,” she said. “They’re very frustrated and very fed up.”
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