U.S. shippers, West Coast dockworkers resume contract talks

Los Angeles | Reuters — Negotiators for shipping lines and terminal operators at 29 U.S. West Coast ports resumed contract talks with the union for dockworkers on Thursday, as cargo backups continued at the ports, a representative for the labour group said.

Officials from the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union resumed negotiations on Thursday morning at the San Francisco headquarters of the association, said Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the union. Talks were expected to last all day, he said.

On Wednesday, the two sides huddled separately, two days after the union gave the companies a counter-offer to a set of proposals delivered by management last week.

The waterfront cargo slowdowns have coincided with prolonged labor talks between 20,000 dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing terminal operators and shipping lines at the ports. The workers’ latest contract expired on June 30.

Management has accused the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of orchestrating some slowdowns, most notably at the massive ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to bolster its leverage at the bargaining table.

Union officials deny being behind any slowdown, and have pointed to other factors such as a shortage of tractor-trailer chassis used for hauling cargo from ports to warehouses.

The two sides have not disclosed details of their talks nor the issues at stake. But on Wednesday, the Pacific Maritime Association said in a statement that the parties remained far apart on several issues.

Reporting for Reuters by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles.

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