Union walkout cripples ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

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.

“You are stranding goods at ports that handle 40% of the nation’s import trade,” said Jock O’Connell, an international trade economist who works as an advisor to Beacon Economics.

“The danger here is that this could call into question the reliability of the San Pedro Harbor ports,” O’Connell said. “The Wal-Marts and the Home Depots may be forced to think twice about relying on these ports as their primary gateway.”

Showing an influence that extended far beyond its numbers, 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, which is the largest container port in the U.S.

Read more at LA Times

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