LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Ships were idle at 29 ports along the west coast on Saturday, including Long Beach and San Pedro, after negotiations between the union and the association representing shipping companies hit a standstill Friday night.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict was in Long Beach on Saturday, and said the port was filled with cargo ships in the water and at the dock.READ MORE: One Crew Member Killed, Second Wounded After Alec Baldwin Discharges Prop Gun On Movie Set In New Mexico
“You see all the ships out in the water,” said Sylvia Armesto, who has lived in San Pedro her entire life and is the daughter and wife of longshoremen. “I’ve never seen that before, that waiting.”
Armesto said the negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping companies, are making area residents nervous.
“People are used to working when they want and now they have to be careful,” she said. “You’ve got arguments on both sides.”
The PMA claims that workers have deliberately slowed down during the last three months of contract negotiations, and that the union has withheld workers.
“We don’t see the economic sense in paying time and a half, paying more for workers who are doing less, and really putting us on the edge,” said PMA spokesman Steve Getzug, who added that there has already been an impact on trade. “It’s created economic harm up from Washington, where apple growers weren’t able to get their crops onto ships to foreign markets.”READ MORE: A Timeline Of Accidental Deaths On Hollywood Sets In Wake Of Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Shooting
The union says there have been “no intentional slowdowns,” and any decrease in productivity is due to industry-wide changes. Nonetheless, the PMA refused to hire workers to load and unload ships this weekend, leaving the cargo containers stacked and waiting and the cranes still.
At the Longshoreman Dispatch Hall, no one wanted to speak to Benedict on camera, but she was told only about 250 people got work on Saturday, about a quarter of the typical hiring, and they were scheduled for yard operations only.
The cranes are expected to start running again Monday morning, and the PMA doesnst have any plans for another partial shutdown, they haven’t ruled it out.
“We want them to share our urgency in reaching a contract that’s fair and reasonable for both sides, and keep the ports moving,” Getzug said.
That is something the people living in the port communities want as well, and with hundreds of millions of dollars in goods just waiting on the water, it won’t be long before the problem goes from the coast to other communities.MORE NEWS: Alec Baldwin On Fatal Movie Set Shooting Of Director Of Photography Halyna Hutchins: ‘There Are No Words’
“It’s going to affect everyone,” Armesto said.