On Thursday, July 7th, operations at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles ceased for one hour ahead of negotiations between the ILWU (International Longshore Warehouse Union) and the Pacific Maritime Association— the former represents the dock workers running the port, and the latter employs them.
Union officials gave advance notice to the bosses of their plan to hold a one hour work cessation between 11 a.m. and noon yesterday. It serves as a reminder of the great potential in organized labor to effect change, even in a labor market that continues to undervalue individual workers.
Specifically, this smaller protest hearkens back to the general strike that shut down the ports of LA and Long Beach in 2015.
The largely symbolic move comes amid pressure on west coast unions to enter into long term agreements with PMA, who see early contract negotiation as important to avoiding slow down and stoppage at the two busiest ports in the country.
The union wants to fend off pressure to accept disadvantageous labor agreements, and to voice concerns about safety following the recent fatality of a worker who was killed in a port of LA staging area.
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram the ILWU local 13 president, Bobby Olvera Jr, called the event “almost spiritual because it is workers all around the world stopping. We were all standing down and making a statement.”
This action comes at a time when tensions between organized labor and employers is at a high, with the few remaining organized sectors lashing out against plays that are seen as attempts to curtail bargaining power. As in the recent controversy between Boeing and Norwegian Air on the one side, and the aerospace workers union and pro-union politicians on the other.
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