Union walkout cripples ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

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LOS ANGELES — A small union of maritime clerks managed to shut down most of the nation’s busiest seaport complex Wednesday, raising concerns about harm to the fragile economy.

Although late November is a relatively slow time for cargo movement at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a prolonged closure could prove costly for retailers and manufacturers who rely on the ports to get their goods as well as truckers and other businesses that depend on the docks for work.

The 800-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63’s Office Clerical Unit established picket lines at seven of the eight terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, and three of the six terminals at the neighboring Port of Long BeachThe union fell back on a statement released Tuesday evening, in which logistics clerk Trinie Thompson said the workers were “drawing the line against corporate greed and outsourcing that’s destroying the good-paying jobs that support working families in our community.” The union’s primary concern is that its jobs could be transferred to nonunion labor in countries with lower wages.

But the 14 employers involved in the contract negotiations — some of the largest ocean shipping lines and terminal operators in the world — said they had not outsourced any jobs. The management group said it had offered “absolute job security” and generous wage and pension increases.

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