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Port Workers Defy Ruling To End Walkout Over ‘Outsourcing’

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of clerical workers at one of the busiest piers at the Port of Los Angeles have refused an arbitrator’s ruling to end a labor strike over alleged staffing shortages.

Since Tuesday night, picketers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have prohibited crane operators and other personnel from taking their positions at Pier 400, according to officials with the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association.

Union spokesman Craig Merrillees told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that the L.A./Long Beach Harbor Employers Association, which represents about 15 employers, wants to outsource the clerical jobs.

“The issue involves outsourcing good jobs, and these big international companies have been quietly shipping jobs offshore,” said Merillees.

An arbitrator ruled on Tuesday night that the picket lines were illegitimate and that workers failed to bargain in good faith. Port officials have urged the union and the pier management company to reach a deal to avoid any potential delays to holiday shipping traffic.

Other unions at the port are honoring the strike, which has yet to spread to other piers.

And while the employers association has criticized the action and called the clerical workers – who make about $40 an hour and get 11 weeks off per year – among the highest paid in the nation, Merrillees said the action is the result of management’s refusal to acknowledge the issue.

“The frustration’s been building over two years, the company’s been in denial, almost like a drug addict or alcoholic that can’t admit the problem,” he said. “The outsourcing’s been going on and on and on.”

Union officials expect the issue to be referred to another arbitrator in an effort to reach an agreement.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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