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West Coast Dockworkers Contract Dispute Roils Retail and Manufacturing Industries

Dockworkers staged a massive strike in 2002. ATVN's Margaux Farrell reports.

(Margaux Farrell/ATVN)
(Margaux Farrell/ATVN)

Contract negotiations between a dockworkers union and employers at major West Coast ports hit a snag after production slowdowns threatened to derail holiday retail sales. 

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has been negotiating a new contract with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents dock employers, since May, according to the Los Angeles Times

Port employees have been working without a contract since July. They continued working after the contract expired at the request of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. 

Workers have accused employers of trying to classify union workers as independent contractors, a classification workers say could lower their pay. 

Major retailers have publicly expressed fears of a strike at West Coast ports. They said recent slowdowns have already threatened holiday retail profits.

Some retailers say a port employee strike could cost the economy $2 billion a day, KPBS reports.

"There are many people supported by the port," said Art Wong, public information officer for the port of Long Beach. "Many thousands of people wouldn't be working. They understand the stakes."

Some restaurants and other businesses frequented by port employees said the strike could devastate them.

"If they don't come and eat lunch, we don't get enough customers," said Rafael Arias, a worker at Berth 55 Fish Market and Seafood. "We could be in a lot of trouble."

Union reps and employers met over the weekend. Both sides plan to continue negotiations on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.


I pray that all can come to an agreement soon. I love my Scentsy business. A lot of our products are being put on hold or back order.

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