West Coast ports — including the nation's busiest in Los Angeles and Long Beach — will partially shut down for four days as shipping companies plan to dramatically slash dock work amid an increasingly contentious labor dispute.
Terminal operators and shipping lines said that they would stop the unloading of ships Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, because they don't want to pay overtime to workers who, they allege, have deliberately slowed operations to the point of causing a massive bottleneck. Thursday is Lincoln's Birthday and Monday is Presidents Day, which are holidays for the workers.
Slowing down work "amounts to a strike with pay, and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike," said Wade Gates, spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Assn., the employer group representing the shipping companies. The local union in Los Angeles and Long Beach has denied using slowdown tactics.
The union has blamed the shipping companies for the congestion, which it says stems from increased use of larger container ships and a shortage of trailers to haul the cargo from the ports.
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