Dock dispute: Terminals closed again today; labor secretary plans meetings in San Francisco

Two notes on the ongoing contract-talks stalemate between West Coast port-terminal operators and longshore workers:

(Northeastward view over ships anchored off Manchester; photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
TERMINALS CLOSED AGAIN TODAY: Today is the fourth day (of the past five) that terminals remain closed to ship offloading by order of the Pacific Maritime Association, the umbrella organization for terminal operators on the West Coast. So far, they’re expected to reopen tomorrow; that could mean major truck traffic on roads to local terminals, such as lower Spokane St. and East Marginal, which backed up last Friday when terminals reopened after the first day of closure. Nine cargo ships are anchored off Seattle and Manchester today, as shown on (and in the photos with this story)

(Bulk-cargo ships anchored off Magnolia, seen from West Seattle; photo by Chris Panarello; [added Tuesday] note – commenter points out the grain terminal is not part of the current situation)
LABOR SECRETARY IN SAN FRANCISCO TOMORROW: There’s an update today on the plan for U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez to intervene by talking with the PMA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union: The Bay Area’s NBC station reports via Twitter that Perez will meet with both sides in San Francisco tomorrow. No details yet.

15 Replies to "Dock dispute: Terminals closed again today; labor secretary plans meetings in San Francisco"

  • GOP in WS February 16, 2015 (12:27 pm)

    This dispute has dragged on too long. Time to invoke Taft Hartley. You lose ILWU.

  • Tony February 16, 2015 (1:00 pm)

    If you think Taft Hartley is really going to solve any problems you must be dreaming. Also so everyone is clear the port is closed due to a lock out from management not a strike by the workers.

  • rdm February 16, 2015 (1:23 pm)

    The PMA has said many times they are not hireing members to work. ILWU Men and Women got to the hall to get hired, PMA refuses to put these members to work. That is not a strike, that is a lockout.

    • WSB February 16, 2015 (1:34 pm)

      And it is clearly noted in our story, as well as in previous stories, that the terminal closure today, the past two days, and last Thursday (plus the preceding weekend) is by decision of the PMA, aka the terminal operators. – TR

  • JoB February 16, 2015 (2:44 pm)

    are port leaseholders in violation of their lease by arbitrarily closing the docks and thereby denying the city revenue?
    if not.. they should be.

  • Econ101 February 16, 2015 (3:23 pm)

    Taft Hartley doesn’t need a “strike” as commonly regarded, I don’t believe. I believe it can be invoked with the perception of a threat or a perceived eminent strike. I think that was what Bush did last time. I can’t recall precisely. Fuzzy details for me right now.

    The umbrella group provides protections for them, I am speculating, JoB. That’s a lot of push back resources if the city were to have a fit. Maybe.

    Regardless, the multinational companies suck. Why would American unions choose to contract with them anyway? I don’t buy imported junk. And that’s what it mostly is. Planned obsolescent junk. At least I consciously try not to but it is tough to find American owned and American union made in the same purchase.

    This particular labor situation is currently hard to have sympathy for. That’s a butt load of money I would rather see cops and emergency service workers and educators get, frankly. But ya, know. Nobody really cares about this, or we would have American companies staying here and reducing trade or Americans would stop buying the crappy junk imports. Somehow, we are all getting what we have come to deserve.

  • flimflam February 16, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    if I recall correctly, the PMA would be paying extra for the workers for holiday pay/weekend and decided it wasn’t worth paying that rate for “slowdown” work. not that unreasonable, really.

  • Born on Alki 59 February 16, 2015 (5:12 pm)

    Time for both sides to put on their big boy pants and settle this. Businesses and working families are losing billions, while the PMA and ILWU are losing any respect they once had.

  • Phillips February 16, 2015 (9:16 pm)

    Three words: Railway Labor Act

  • Mike February 16, 2015 (11:50 pm)

    PMA just needs ILWU to agree to sign the papers. ILWU is just as much at fault here as PMA. It’s pure greed at this point.

  • j February 17, 2015 (10:38 am)

    WSB are you using the picture of the ships waiting for the grain terminal so as to appear there is a greater problem than there really is or are you just misinformed?
    The grain ships have absolutely nothing to do with the contract that is currently being negotiated. There is a separate contract for the grain.
    Anyone that has lived in the city for any length of time knows the grain ships line up and wait their turn.

    • WSB February 17, 2015 (10:49 am)

      “J,” the intimation that we would “use a photo … to appear there is a greater problem than there really is” is exceptionally offensive. In fact, we’ve gone to far greater lengths than other media outlets to be clear and fair about the ongoing situation, particularly in taking pains to use non-subjective terminology regarding this situation when reporting on it (I discussed this during a radio appearance two weeks ago – while use of “slowdowns” proliferates among the citywide/regionals, we have taken great care to present what both sides are saying)..
      The source of this image is a photographer who sent us several photos of ships in Elliott Bay; we’ve already shown the Prague Express so I chose this one. If they’re not involved, I stand corrected. And sorry, I’ve lived and worked in this city as a journalist for 24 years and believe me, which ships do what, where, is NOT common knowledge (we get e-mail every day with questions about a wide variety of things you might think would be common knowledge, maritime and nonmaritime, and aren’t). Writing about this ongoing situation has been highly educational, including your note here. – TR

  • j February 17, 2015 (11:43 am)

    WSB I didn’t know where you stood so the question had to be asked. Offending you was not my intention. I apologize. Other media outlets have blatantly skewed facts. Especially the $147,000 that is the average longshoreman wage.
    I implore anyone who’s good at math to tell me how $33hr becomes $147,000 a year.
    It doesn’t.
    That figure is fabricated and excludes about 75-85% of longshoremen.
    I personally am just saddened by the fact that people have been so easily mislead. It’s sad that people side with foreign companies who have been earning record profits for years and PMA’s Jim McKenna who makes over $900000 a year instead of the hard working men and women who live in your community.
    Good thing we have the water or else this contract would have been dangled in front of every other state in the union where we would have a race to the bottom ala Boeing.

  • Plf February 17, 2015 (1:29 pm)

    What are the issues keeping the two sides from settling

  • DP February 17, 2015 (3:10 pm)

    Plf – my father, ILWU in San Diego (also not a huge Union guy himself), tells me the main issue is PMA’s insistence on finding labor for chasis (could be vessel maintainance) outside the ILWU. ILWU traditionally has performed said vehicle repairs, but PMA wants to find a cheaper source for labor now.
    He also tells me this has nothing to do with money as that issue has been worked out for months.

Sorry, comment time is over.