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U.S. West Coast dockworkers force closure of top container port – employer group

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Stacked containers and cranes are shown at the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A shortage of West Coast portworkers has forced the closure of the busiest U.S. ocean trade gateway on Friday, after months of strained labor negotiations between the dockworkers union and their employers.

Workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Thursday began withholding labor, which was needed to load and unload cargo, as part of a coordinated action by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), according to the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents employers.

“The action by the union has effectively shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” the PMA said in a statement.

The labor union and ports were not immediately available for further comment.

Union workers at the ports have the been without a labor contract since the previous agreement expired on July 1, 2022, and the labor dispute has forced major retailers to shift cargo to East and Gulf Coast ports to avoid disruptions.

The ILWU and PMA have previously said that they reached a tentative agreement on certain key negotiation sticking points and were committed to resolving the contract matter expeditiously.

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