Open Our Ports! - NBC Southern California
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Open Our Ports!



    Good news note: An agreement on a contract -- and to end the strike -- was reached late Tuesday night.

    The economy of Southern California is being held hostage.

    That's the real impact of a strike by a small local of the Internatlional Longshore and Warehouse Union -- the 800-member Office Clerical Union. Other union workers at the ports are honoring the picket lines -- thus effectively shutting down most activity in the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles for nearly a week.

    it's a serious problem that a small group of people -- in this case, very well-compensated clerical workers -- can take such a bite out of the Southern California economy -- and indeed the state and national economies too. Some 40 percent of U.S. imports comes through the ports. And the twin ports are vital to the economy of greater Los Angeles.

    The strike is also poorly timed. The ports face serious threats from all sorts of competitors -- especially because new larger locks are scheduled to open in 2014 in the Panama Canal, an advance that could draw traffic away from Long Beach and Los Angeles. Indeed, during the strike, at least two ships that were due to dock at the port have headed to Panama instead.

    This strike needs to end now. And the ports need to be open. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been pushing publicly for round-the-clock negotiations, but there needs to be far greater, quicker political pressure on the union and the employer, the Harbor Employers Association, to reach an agreement. A federal mediator is now part of the talks, according to multiple reports on Tuesday.

    The ports are too big and too important to be held hostage by something so small.

    Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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