Port of Oakland officials say the labor dispute that shut down Oakland’s largest terminal Wednesday, doesn’t help the Port’s efforts to clear a painful backlog of cargo caused by nine-months of a bitter labor battle. There is also concern that shippers could pull out and take their business elsewhere if questions arise over the reliability of Oakland’s operations.
Tension erupted about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Managers at the SSA’s Oakland International Container Terminal shut down yard and gate operations. The ILWU says 45 dock workers were fired and sent home. SSA Terminal managers reportedly wanted two people working on each crane, which they say is common at other port terminals. In a statement on SSA’s behalf, the PMA stated, “ILWU LOCAL 10 is refusing to allow yard cranes to operate unless that number is increased to three. This is a demand that Local 10 made and dropped during negotiations that led to the tentative agreement.”
The PMA says another conflict arose over SSA’s request that union workers lock and unlock the chassis and containers. Both of issues were raised during contract talks but later dropped by the union, according to the PMA. Wednesday’s labor dispute comes amidst a delicate truce between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) which represents 70 West Coast terminal operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (IWLU). Both sides agreed to a tentative deal after intervention by the Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in February, but the contract has not yet been ratified by the union’s rank and file. Truck drivers who had waited hours in line Wednesday, were left with no loads to carry. The port resumed full operations Thursday, March 12, 2015.