Longshoremen at the Port of Oakland in California walked off the job on Wednesday morning, aiming to push the two sides in the ongoing contract negotiations to get back to the bargaining table. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the port employers, began negotiations in May, hoping to sign a new contract before the previous agreement expired on July 1.
Now in the fifth month since they began, talks have stalled.
The work stoppage was not an official ILWU action. In fact, a spokesman for the union said, “I don’t have any information on Oakland today; if there is something happening there, it would be a local issue and not a coastwide issue.”
The Port of Oakland told local radio station KCBS in a statement that they are “aware and closely monitoring the situation. We are working with our maritime partners so that we can keep international commerce flowing in order to preserve local jobs. The Port is hopeful the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association can resolve this so that Oakland importers and exporters are not impacted. “Protesters have cleared the seaport area and our international marine terminals will try to reopen for tonight’s work shift.”
According to US trucking publication Overdrive, the Port of Oakland said in an email to a local fleet owner that “the port’s Everport, TraPac, OICT and Howard Terminal were closed on Wednesday morning while the Matson and Shippers Transport Express terminals remained open.”
Longshoreman Keith Shanklin told KCBS Radio: “We mean business. It’s not just about money. It’s about our livelihood here. In order to preserve what you have, you have to be willing to fight for it. And we’re willing to fight for it, we’re willing to step out and do what we have to do to make them understand it. We’re serious about it, this is not something that we’re playing around with.”
Credit Splash247 by Kim Biggar