It’s Happened: West Coast Ports (Mostly) Shut Down

What many feared has come true. The 29 ports on the West Coast are (mostly) shutting down. Today, as well as on Saturday and Sunday, all loading and unloading activity will stop, port operator the Pacific Maritime Association announced. The operator said it didn't want to pay workers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union the holiday or weekend wages required for those days. (Monday is President's Day.) These holiday and weekend wages are at least 50% above normal, The Associated Press reported.

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The port operator accuse the union workers of having slowed down production significantly in recent months as contract negotiations have dragged on without resolution.

"What they’re doing amounts to a strike with pay,” Wade Gates, spokesperson for the Pacific Maritime Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle, regarding the worker slowdowns, “and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike.”

Workers have a different take:

"The employers are deliberately worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table,” said Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, according to The New York Times.

The shutdown is likely to have a major impact on the movement of goods in and out of the country. Industries have already responded to the recent situation, with the National Retail Federation calling upon the White House to step in to settle the ongoing contract dispute.


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