The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will be partially closed for the holiday weekend starting Thursday due to an ongoing labor dispute.
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents port employers, made the decision to stop the loading and unloading of ships after another round of contract talks with dockworkers broke down Wednesday. Yard, gate and rail operations will continue.
The decision affects all 29 U.S. West Coast ports, and the PMA claimed the refusal of workers to accept a new employment had forced the decision.
"Last week, PMA made a comprehensive contract offer designed to bring these talks to conclusion," PMA spokesman Wade Gates said. "The ILWU responded with demands they knew we could not meet, and continued slowdowns that will soon bring West Coast ports to gridlock. What they’re doing amounts to a strike with pay, and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike."
However the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has denied this, and claimed the decision is an attempt to pressure workers over the negotiations, which have dragged on for nearly nine months.
"It seems to us that the employers are trying to sabotage negotiations,” ILWU President Robert McEllrath said added. "They are not just hurting workers, families and communities."
"What our employers are doing is bad for the industry and the US economy," he said.
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McEllrath also said the union is ready to return to the negotiating table with employers.
The National Retail Federation says a full, extended shutdown of the ports could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion per day.